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Richard of Chichester

DAVID ADAMS looks at the ‘Day by Day’ prayer, attributed to a medieval English bishop…

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.

Richard of Chichester

St Richard of Chichester, depicted in a statue outside Chichester Cathedral in the UK. PICTURE: David Adams

Attributed to Richard of Chichester – bishop of the English city of Chicester in the mid 13th century and a gifted scholar who was later canonized as a saint, this prayer is a simple yet profound expression of the Christian journey.

It begins with the person praying giving thanks for the redeeming work of Jesus Christ in their life  – and the “benefits” which flow from it – as well as an acknowledgement of what it cost Him.

The prayer then progresses to the desire of the person praying to draw into ever deeper intimacy with Christ, not just through a growing knowledge and love of and for him, but also through our actions in following Him and His teachings.

The prayer, of which there are various versions – some of which don’t have the day by day statement at the end, is an acknowledgement of the ongoing work of sanctification in the believer as they walk through life with Jesus and also serves as a reminder that we need to stop and take stock of where we’re at on an ongoing – day-by-day – basis.

The story goes that the words in the prayer are the last ever spoken by the bishop prior to his death in 1253 and were recorded by a Dominican friar, who served as his confessor.

More than 700 years after they were recorded, they were used as the basis for the song Day By Day, written for the musical Godspell which was first performed in theatre in 1971 and then later, in 1973, released as a film. Various covers of the song have since been released.


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