Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

“I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go”: The Perfect Hymn for Missionaries 

“I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” was published in 1899 and has been popular with Christians ever since. 

Although the text was written by a Baptist named Mary Brown (1856–1918), many people mistake the hymn as one of Latter-day Saint origin because of its missionary focus. “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” is often sung at missionary farewells and expresses a desire to serve the Lord wherever and whenever.

Shortly after receiving Brown’s text, Carrie E. Rounsefell (1861–1930) composed the music using an instrument called a zither. Rounsefell was known as a sing­ing evan­gel­ist through­out New Eng­land and New York.

The book Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson describes the hymn: “A traditional hymn for Latter-day Saint missionary farewells, this song embodies the faith of a true servant of the Lord—willing to alter plans, give up worldly goods, and travel to the far corners of the earth to do the Lord’s bidding.”

In a 2002 general conference talk President Dallin H. Oaks said: “‘I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord’ was the motivation for Lehi to leave Jerusalem (see 1 Ne. 2) and for his son Nephi to return for the precious records (see 1 Ne. 3). Hundreds of other scriptural examples can be cited.”

In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members were called on missions during general conference meetings. In an 1856 conference, Heber C. Kimball announced: “I will present to this congregation the names of those whom we have selected to go on missions. Some are appointed to go to Europe, Australia, and the East Indies. And several will be sent to Las Vegas, to the north, and to Fort Supply, to strengthen the settlements there.”

Times have changed—and personal letters that can be shared with family and friends, rather than the entire body of the Church, are now thankfully sent to prospective missionaries. Watch “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.”

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go (Lyrics)

It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To 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.

(Chorus)
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.

Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin
Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,
Tho dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet:
I’ll say what you want me to say.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

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