While growing up it was common in our church to have week long missionary conferences each year, usually with a different visiting missionary each night. And it was common during these meetings to sing the few missionary hymns that were in our hymnal. I often thought that this probably wasn't fair to the visiting missionaries who probably seldom had a chance to sing other hymns. But one of those missionary hymns that was sung regularly was "So Send I You". This hymn has been labeled by many evangelical leaders as the finest missionary hymn of the twentieth century. It was first published in 1954 after having been written sixteen years earlier by a Canadian school teacher, Margaret Clarkson (1915-2008). Clarkson was a teacher in a gold-mining camp in northern Ontario, Canada. It was a lonely life for this woman, but she also knew that this is where God wanted her to serve Him. She had a great desire to be a missionary on a foreign field but because of her health was unable to go. One day she was reading John 20:21, "Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." While meditating on this verse she wrote the words to this hymn. She said "I spent seven years in the north. I experienced loneliness of every kind; mental, cultural, but particularly spiritual, for in all of those seven years I never found real Christian fellowship – churches were modern and born-again Christians almost nonexistent." Now that background helps explain the words of this hymn. But there is more to the story than I ever knew until I looked into Clarkson's history. And I will share that with you following the words of the original song.
So send I you to labour unrewarded
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown
To bear rebuke, ot suffer scorn and scoffing
So send I you to toil for Me alone
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken
Over wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary
So send I you to suffer for My sake
So send I you to loneliness and longing
With hart a-hungering for the loved and known
Forsaking kin and kindred, friend and dear one
So send I you to know My love alone
So send I you to leave your life's ambition
To die to dear desire, self-will resign
To labour long, and love where men revile you
So send I you to lose you life in Mine
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred
To eyes made blind because they will not see
To spend, though it be blood to spend and spare not
So send I you to taste of Calvary
"As the Father hath sent me, so send I you"
Now here is the part of the story that I found very interesting. According to Clarkson "Some years later [in 1963 - after more life-experience and contact with real missionaries] I realized that the poem was really very one-sided; it told only of the sorrows and privations of the missionary call and none of its triumphs. [So,] I wrote another song in the same rhythm so that verses could be used interchangeably, setting forth the glory and the hope of the missionary calling. This was published in 1963. Above all I wish to be a biblical writer, and the second hymn is the more biblical one." Unfortunately the original hymn words were already accepted into widely distributed printed hymnals. Few know of her change of heart and change of words, though she would prefer the latter to be the more popular version.
So send I you-by grace made strong to triumph
O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death, and sin,
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer-
So send I you, my victory to win.
So send I you-to take to souls in bondage
The word of truth that sets the captive free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters-
So send I you, to bring the lost to me.
So send I you-my strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, my perfect peace in pain,
To prove My power, My grace, My promised presence-
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.
So send I you-to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, "well done, My faithful servant-
Come, share My throne, My kingdom, and My crown!"
"As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you."
You can listen to the original words here. LISTEN