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The story behind “So Send I You” by Margaret Clarkson

Updated: May 4, 2021

Have you ever read the second version? It’s rare in our hymnbooks.

The text of So Send I You, sometimes called the finest missionary hymn of the twentieth century, was written by 22-year-old E. Margaret Clarkson. The original version is certainly one of the best-known missionary hymns. However, few people know the second version, and the story of her re-writing the original to be far better.

Born in Saskatchewan, Margaret Clarkson grew up in Toronto. Jobs were so scarce that she had to spend seven years in the far north of Ontario, first in a lumber camp, then in a gold-mining area, before returning to teach for 31 years in Toronto, retiring in 1973.

In the north, she says, “I experienced deep loneliness of every kind—mental, cultural and particularly, spiritual—I found no Bible-teaching church fellowship, and only one or two isolated Christians, in those years. Studying the Word one night and thinking of the loneliness of my situation, I came to John 20, and the words ‘So send I you.’ Because of a physical disability I could never go to the mission field, and this was where He had sent me. I had written verse all my life, so [in 1954] it was natural for me to express my thoughts in a poem.

“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.” [from: “Amazing Hymn Stories” found at]

Unfortunately for us all, 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.

Here are the two hymns’ words juxtaposed:

========================= Margaret Clarkson, 1954

So send I you — to labor unrewarded, To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,

To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing — So send I you, to toil for Me alone.

So send I you — to bind the bruised and broken, O’er wand’ring 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 heart a-hung’ring for the loved and known,

Forsaking home 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 labor long, and love where men revile you — So send I you, to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you — to hearts made hard by hatred, To eyes made blind because they will not see,

To spend, tho 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.”

============================ Margaret Clarkson, 1963

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.