Posted by: rcottrill | July 22, 2011

So Send I You

Words: Edith Margaret Clarkson (b. June 8, 1915; d. Mar. 17, 2008)
Music: John Willard Peterson (b. Nov. 1, 1921; d. Sept. 20, 2006)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Margaret Clarkson)

Note: As of the time this blog is being written, the Cyber Hymnal does not have a page on the hymn itself, but I’ve provided a link to its biography of Margaret Clarkson. The Wordwise Link tells the story behind the hymn. Miss Clarkson was a prolific author, and one of our greatest Canadian hymn writers.

The ending of this hymn is not precisely a refrain, since it is not repeated, but is designed to be sung only once. It alludes to the words of the risen Christ to His followers: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (Jn. 20:21). It is a brief statement, but one which would seem to have profound implications. “As the Father…I also…” In what way are the two similar?

There is the implication of divine authority. Just as God the Father sent the Lord Jesus, so He sends His followers to carry out His “Great Commission” (Jn. 17:18; cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15). In a sense, we are to carry on the work that He began. Yes, what Christ did was unique, particularly His redemptive work. No other could die for the sins of the world. But we are to carry on bearing witness to the truth.

The commission is a demonstration of grace. The disciples had all failed Him, in the crisis hour (Mk. 14:50). And if we had been there, we’d have been no better. Yet the Lord deigns to summon us to serve Him, weak and fallible as we are. We are granted a humbling privilege. The call of the Master also involves a great responsibility. We are commissioned to be His servants, and His ambassadors (II Cor. 5:20). Will we declare, as David did, “I delight to do Your will, O my God” (Ps. 40:8)? “Who is sufficient for these things?” (II Cor. 2:16). “Our sufficiency is from God” (II Cor. 3:5)

The Lord Jesus took on our humanity (Jn. 1:14), readily identifying with those in need. His title for Himself, “the Son of Man,” is used over eighty times in the Gospels. It indicates One who has the nature of Man. “Foxes have holes,” He said, “and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20). Just as He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmity,” so we must minister His compassion to others (Heb. 4:15-16; cf. II Cor. 1:3-4).

Ministry for Christ will also involve self-sacrifice. We can never give what He gave, or even imagine the extent of His condescension. But we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices, in His service (Rom. 12:1). It is this particular aspect of the call to service that Margaret Clarkson emphasizes in her stirring hymn. She does not sugarcoat the case. It is a stark portrait she paints. So much so that in later years she wrote a companion hymn, emphasizing more of the joys of Christian service. Nevertheless, the message of the first song needs careful consideration.

So send I you to labour unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing–
So send I you to toil for Me alone.

We are sent on a path that may involve “loneliness and longing…forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one” (stanza 3). Sent “to labour long, and love where men revile [us]” (stanza 4). “To spend, though it be blood–to spend and spare not–so send I you to taste of Calvary” (stanza 5). If this seems too strong, consider the words of the Lord Jesus, just before He went to the cross:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you….Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (Jn. 15:18, 20).

Questions:
1) Among some professing Christians, this is not a popular message in our day. Why not?

2) What will bring a new and deeper commitment to Christ’s service, in these last days before His return?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Margaret Clarkson)


Responses

  1. I was reminded of this hymn in a sermon this morning and told the story of it’s background, a few details of which are missing here. It has been probably been more than twenty-five years since I have heard this hymn and I had forgotten what a soul-stirring hymn it was.

    More details about it can be found at http://godwordistruth.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/so-send-i-you-missionary-hymn-of-the-twentieth-ce http://godwordistruth.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/so-send-i-you-missionary-hymn-of-the-twentieth-century/ ntury/.

    I have come across your blog a number of times as I have been searching for various hymns. Thank you for your service! I so much enjoy reading the stories behind the the music! Our little assembly of believers on the Canadian prairies remains dedicated to singing hymns and being edified by the messages in them. One of my hobbies is collecting old hymn books and I snatch them up whenever I come across one I haven’t yet seen at a used book store garage sale.

    • Well, a triple blessing to start the new day! Thank you for your kind words about the blog. As a student of hymnology for over forty years, I’m convinced churches lose a great deal when they abandon the old hymns and gospel songs.

      That’s why it’s good to hear of another church that continues to sing them (as ours does). Maybe the Lord will enable us to do a little to keep this precious heritage alive.

      Then there’s your hobby of collecting old hymn books. I do too, some of them dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, with one reprint from the eighteenth. The oldest are beginning to crumble, but I treasure them. When I’m looking for a particular old hymn, they’ve come to my rescue again and again.

      God bless you, and the believers with whom you fellowship.


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