Charles Hutchinson Gabriel was born August 18, 1856 in Wilton Iowa. His father led singing schools in their family home, which led to Charles following in his footsteps - teaching in various singing schools beginning at age 17. Though he was almost entirely self-taught, Charles H. Gabriel quickly garnered acclaim as an able teacher and composer of music.
Gabriel was one of the most popular composers of his time and is credited with writing either words or music for more than 8,000 songs, often writing under the pseudonym “Charlotte G. Homer.” He served as music editor for the Rodeheaver Publishing Company in Chicago, the E. O. Excell Publishing Company, as well as Hope Publishing. Gabriel was instrumental in the editing of 159 collections of music, as well as many music instructional books.
Gabriel is not only remembered for his prolific pen and unique musical style, but those who knew him credited him as,
“a very genial and kindly-spirited man. His large success has not spoiled him, but seems rather to have added kindliness and helpfulness to his naturally generous disposition. He has no sense of rivalry with other composers and no inclination to emphasize their limitations or shortcomings. There is probably no composer in the land who has more friends among music writers, both famous and obscure, than Mr. Gabriel. He resides in Chicago and is one of her honored citizens. May he live long and continue to give vent to his musical genius.”
-J.H. Hall, Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers (1914)
Gabriel wrote the words & music to “Send the Light” after moving to California in 1887 during his capacity as Sunday School music director for Grace Methodist Church in San Francisco. Gabriel was asked to write a song for a missions meeting by his peers at the church, and so “Send the Light” came to be his first published song. Most modern hymnals and arrangements exclude the first 8 measures of the refrain, but the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs collection has included the full song as intended by the author.
Send the light! Send the light!