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Words: Albert Benjamin Simpson (b. Dec. 15, 1843; d. Oct. 29, 1919)
Music: Margaret Mae Simpson (b. April ___, 1878; d. Oct. 9, 1958)
Note: Pastor Simpson’s fine missionary hymn was published in 1904. His daughter Margaret supplied the tune.
T he phrase that dominates this hymn, “to the regions beyond,” is taken from the words of Paul in Second Corinthians.
Having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (II Cor. 10:15-17).
Or, as J. B. Philips has it, “Our hope is that your growing faith will mean the expansion of our proper sphere of action, so that before long we shall be preaching the gospel in districts beyond you.”
Particularly in the Christian missionary work of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that phrase, “the regions beyond,” came to represent the goal and passion of many servants of Christ. One of these was Canadian pastor and missionary statesman Albert Simpson.
CH-1) To the regions beyond I must go, I must go
Where the story has never been told;
To the millions that never have heard of His love,
I must tell the sweet story of old.
To the regions beyond I must go, I must go,
Till the world, all the world, His salvation shall know.
The pages of secular history are dotted with the names of intrepid explorers who dared to reach beyond the confines of the European continent to the shores of what was to them a New World. Leif Erickson was apparently the first, at the end of the first millennium, followed by Columbus (1492), Cabot (1497), Magellan (1520), and many more.
These reached beyond the seas that bounded their own lands. Then others, later, dreamed of even grander things. Hot air balloons enabled man to reach beyond the bounds of earth, and Wilbur and Orville Wright pioneered flight in heavier-than-air machines. Though it took half a century more, it was only “one small step for a man” to climb beyond the confines of earth’s atmosphere and eventually reach the moon in 1969.
When it comes to biblical history we can see the same thing. During the three years He was on earth, only once did the Lord Jesus step briefly beyond the borders of the Holy Land. But after His death and resurrection, and before He ascended back to God the Father, Christ commissioned His followers to carry the message of the gospel much further. “You shall be witnesses to Me,” He said, “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The book of Acts is the record of how dedicated believers began to do that. Even opposition didn’t stop the spread of the gospel. In fact, the devil rather outsmarted himself in that. If his intention was to stir up the enemies of the cross to stamp out Christianity, it worked in completely the opposite way. The Bible says:
“A great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria…those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:1, 4).
It was like trying to stamp out a fire, and having the glowing sparks fly off and start new fires elsewhere. One of the missionaries, a converted Jewish Pharisee named Saul (later, Paul), went on three journeys (and likely a fourth, after the end of Acts) preaching the gospel and founding new churches around the Mediterranean world. The hardships and cruelty he faced are graphically reported (II Cor. 11:23-28).
Acts chapter 18 records his early ministry in the city of Corinth. Then, when problems later developed in the church there, he wrote letters to them giving further instruction and calling for corrective measures (the first and second epistles to the Corinthians). It’s near the end of the second letter that Paul speaks of his hope to get things settled in the Corinthian church so he can move on elsewhere, “to preach the gospel in the regions [or lands] beyond you” (II Cor. 10:16)–likely referring to western Greece, Italy and Spain.
CH-2) To the hardest of places He calls me to go,
Never thinking of comfort or ease;
The world may pronounce me a dreamer, a fool,
Enough if the Master I please.
CH-3) Oh, you that are spending your leisure and powers
In those pleasures so foolish and fond;
Awake from your selfishness, folly and sin,
And go to the regions beyond.
1) In what areas are missionaries serving who are supported by your church?
2) Can you think of three or four ways you can encourage and help these servants of Christ (either as a church, or personally)?