One of the first hymnals used by Southern Baptists was the Baptist Psalmody. It was published in 1850 by the Southern Baptist Publication Society and recommended for use in all the churches when the convention met in Nashville in 1851. Along with many contributions by well-known English hymn writers (such as John Newton and Isaac Watts), the hymnal included some newer hymns by American Baptists. One that was especially popular was “O Could I Find from Day to Day” by Benjamin Cleavland.
Benjamin Cleavland was born in Windham, Connecticut on August 30, 1733. Little is known of his life. He was married to Mary Elderkin and had twelve children. He settled in Horton, Nova Scotia (later called Wolfville) and was a member of the Baptist church formed there. He remained in Horton until his death on March 9, 1811.
In 1790 Cleavland published a small collection of hymns in Norwich, Connecticut, called Hymns on Different Spiritual Subjects. The hymnal was well received and was in a fourth edition by 1792.  Cleavland’s hymn “O Could I Find from Day to Day” continued to be well-liked and eventually found its way into several collections, although Cleavland’s name was lost from the text. In the Baptist Psalmody the hymn is credited to the Christian Psalmody. The small book Cleavland had published surfaced again in 1870, found by Reverend S. Dryden Phelps in Hartford, Connecticut.  This discovery established the authorship of Cleavland to the hymn (#656 in the Baptist Psalmody).
The opening verse of the hymn is an expression of delight in spending time reading and meditating on God’s Word. The remaining three verses are a prayer that we would live everyday in the joy of Christ, that He would rule in our hearts throughout our days, and that at the end of our days we would love Him even more.
Below are the words and link to the hymn set to a tune composed for Cleavland’s lyrics by Tom Wells (Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas). My thanks to Tom for his permission to include his excellent tune in this post.
O Could I Find From Day to Day
O could I find, from day to day,
A nearness to my God,
Then would my hours glide sweet away,
While leaning on His Word.
Lord, I desire with Thee to live
Anew from day to day,
In joys the world can never give,
Nor ever take away.
Blest Jesus, come, and rule my heart,
And make me wholly Thine,
That I may never more depart,
Nor grieve Thy love divine.
Thus, till my last, expiring breath,
Thy goodness I’ll adore;
And when my frame dissolved in death,
My soul shall love Thee more.
“O Could I Find from Day to Day”
Words by Benjamin Cleavland (1733–1811)
Music by Tom Wells, 2001
Words ©Public Domain
Music ©2001 Tom Wells (Used by Permission)
Download a PDF of the sheet music for this hymn
Download a PDF of a guitar chart for this hymn
Download a PDF of the hymn tune THACKERSON arranged for classical guitar
More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar
 Charles W. Hughes, American Hymns Old And New (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), 347.
 Henry S. Burrage, Baptist Hymn Writers and Their Hymns (Portland, Maine: Brown Thurston and Company, 1888), 223.