“I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go”

"…Who will go?…Then I said, Here am I; send me" (Isa. 6.8)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to us to do the Lord’s will with a sincere heart in various areas of service such as going wherever He sends us is "I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go" (#191 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text of stanza 1 is attributed to Mary Brown (1856-1918). There may have been a Mary Brown who lived in Jewett City, CN, during the last decades of the 19th century, although some authorities now think that perhaps the first stanza was possibly written under that pseudonym by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932). The tune (Manchester) was composed by Carrie Esther Rounsefell (1861-1930). Born in Merrimack, NH, the daughter of James A. and Clara A. Parker, she moved with her family to Manchester, NH, while still a child. There she married William E. Rounsefell, a bookkeeper.

     In 1894 when Mrs. Rounsefell visiting at Lynn, MA, , and the minister at the local Baptist Church gave her a copy of the first stanza, which must have been penned about or before that time, attributed to Mary Brown, and asked her to provide a tune for it. First sung in a revival service there and then printed in song sheet form for use at the Bowdoin Square Church in Boston, MA, the song’s earliest appearance in a hymnbook was in Best Hymns No. 2, compiled by Harold F. Sayles and Elisha A. Hoffman, published in 1895 by the Evangelical Publishing Co. of Chicago, IL. Hoffman was also a hymnwriter and is credited with many well known songs, such as "I Must Tell Jesus." It appears that for this collection the the text of stanzas two and three was written by Charles Edwin Prior, who was born near Moosup, CN, on Jan. 27, 1856, the son of Erastus L. and Sarah Burleson Prior. Moving with his family to Jewett City, CN, he eventually became an official in the Jewett City Savings Bank.

     In 1870, Prior began serving as song director with the Congregational Church in Jewett City, and in 1878 became song director with the Baptist Church. Later, he moved to Hartford, CN, where he held several responsible positions in the Security Company, also serving as president of the Baptist Union and as music director for several of the Baptist Sunday School Union assemblies at Crescent Beach. In addition to producing a number of gospel songs, he published several hymn collections, such as Spicy Breezes in 1883, Sparkling and Bright in 1890 with John H. Tenney, who composed tunes for "I Will Pray" and "Come to Jesus", and Our Best Endeavor in 1892 with William A. Ogden, who was the author and composer of several hymns such as "He Is Able to Deliver Thee." Prior died at Bridgeport, CN, on June 27, 1927 A year afterwards, Mrs. Rounsefell moved to Durham, ME, where she later died at the age of 69.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) and the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song suggests some things that we can do in the Lord’s service.

I. The first stanza says that we should go where He wants us to go
"It may not be on the mountain’s height, Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front My Lord will have need of me;
But if I am needed anywhere In paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine, I’ll go where You want me to go."
 A. Wherever they go, be it on the mountain’s height, over the stormy sea, or even at the battle’s front, the Lord wants His people to go everywhere preaching the word: Acts 8.4
 B. The original of stanza 1, line 5 was, "But if by a still, small voice He calls to paths that I do not know." If we understand this as the Lord speaking to each of us by His word, then we should be able to sing it with no problem. However, to avoid the possibility of thinking that this is talking about God speaking directly to us, some books change it to, "But if I am needed anywhere in paths that I do not know." In any event, we need to go wherever we have the ability and opportunity to teach others–whether across borders and seas to foreign lands, or across the street to our neighbors: Matt. 28.19-20
 C. We know that Jesus wants His people to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature": Mk. 16.15-16. Therefore my attitude should be, "I’ll go where You want me to go."

II. The second stanza tells us that we should say what He wants us to say
"Perhaps today there are loving words Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin Some wanderer whom I should seek;
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my guide, Though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo Thy message sweet, I’ll say what You want me to say."
 A. Yes, there are loving words which Jesus would have us speak–they are found in the gospel of salvation: Rom. 1.16
 B. Yes, there are now in the paths of sin some wanderers whom we should seek–cf.: Acts 18.9-10, 2 Cor.5.10-21
 C. Therefore, our voices need to echo His message sweet by teaching others also: 2 Tim. 2.2. If Jesus is truly my guide, though dark and rugged the way, my attitude needs to be, "I’ll say what You want me to say."

III. The third stanza tells us that we should be what He wants us to be
"There’s surely somewhere a lowly place, In earth’s harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor through life’s short day For Jesus, the Crucified;
So trusting my all to Thy tender care, And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere, I’ll be what You want me to be."
 A. Surely there is a place for each of us in earth’s harvest field so wide where we may labor: Matt. 9.35-38
 B. But to do so, we must trust our all to His tender care and remember that He loves us: Heb. 13.5-6, 1 Pet. 5.7
 C. And with this determination, we can do His will with a heart sincere; and His will is that we be good examples to the people of this world: Matt. 5.14-16, 1 Tim. 4.12. Hence, my attitude in the service of Christ is that "I’ll be what You want me to be."

     CONCL.: The chorus repeats the three main apsects of our service to Jesus Christ mentioned in the stanzas:
"I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord, Over mountain, or plain, or sea;
I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord, I’ll be what you want me to be."
As we strive to serve Christ in this life, each Christian should have the kind of attitude toward doing the Lord’s will that he or she will always say to Him, "I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go."


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