Posted by: rcottrill | January 27, 2014

Send the Light

Words: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Gabriel born)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Charles Gabriel was one of the most prolific gospel song writers at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. Many of his creations are still found in our hymn books. For example:

He Lifted Me
More Like the Master
My Saviour’s Love
O It Is Wonderful
O That Will Be Glory
Send the Light

For these he wrote both words and music. But in other cases he either provided the text (e.g. I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go) or composed the tune (e.g. Higher Ground). The present song was written in 1890. At the time, Mr, Gabriel was the choir director at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, in San Franciso.

There is some question about the occasion for which the song was written. When it was first published, it bore the inscription, “For the Easter Service.” However, in later years Charles Gabriel wrote that the song was for a Missionary Day in the church’s Sunday School, when a “golden offering” (see CH-2) was taken to support foreign missionaries in their work. It’s possible these two things took place on the same day.

The Bible uses the symbolism of light in a number of ways. There it represents the light of truth, found in the Bible (e.g. Ps. 119:105, 130). It’s also a symbol of the light of truth and holiness found in the person of Christ. He said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12)–life providing another use of the symbol (cf. Job 33:30; Ps. 36:9; 56:13).

These three things: the “light” of truth, of holiness, and life, are applied to the saints, as well. We have them in a derivative sense. That is, in ourselves, in our sinful fallen state, we are darkness, and in darkness. But by the saving work of God we are given light. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

Christians live in a world of sinners, “among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

The Lord says to Paul, “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:17-18).

These texts suggest that we are light bearers, and light reflectors (cf. “a Christlike spirit” CH-3). But being a light sender is something else, and clearly that is the emphasis of the song. As witnesses for the Lord we carry the light. But as those who support other servants of Christ by our prayers, and by our gifts (our “golden offerings” CH-2), we extend the light of the gospel to other places where, perhaps, we are unable to go.

Thus the Apostle Paul expresses his appreciation for the help and support of the Philippian Christians (Phil. 4:13-18) that enabled him to be a light-bearer elsewhere. One of the places the missionaries went (on Paul’s second missionary journey) was Macedonia. That outreach came about this way.

“A vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:9-10).

This is the “Macedonian call” Charles Gabriel refers to in CH-2. A summons to spread the light of the gospel still further, until we fulfil our mandate: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15).

CH-1) There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

Send the light, the blessèd gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, the blessèd gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!

CH-4) Let us not grow weary in the work of love,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light! Send the light!

Questions:
1) What kinds of things can we do, as individuals, and as churches, to take the gospel to all the world?

2) Why is the cause of world missions less vibrant and urgent in North America today than it was a generation or two ago?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Gabriel born)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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