History of a Song: February - "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission"

(I have wondered sometimes about the history of some of the primary songs and the hymns we sing in church. So I thought that I would look one up once a month and indulge myself!)

The song “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission” was original written in 1970 by Newel Kay Brown. He is originally born in Salt Lake City (a leap year baby!) and currently as of 2010 lived in Texas. He also wrote a few pieces for flute and clarinet as well as a hymn currently in the hymnal (#71 With Songs of Praise). During an interview, Brother Brown said that his inspiration for the song came from one of his favorite songs “A Mormon Boy”. When he was asked to contribute a song on missionary work for possible inclusion in a song book, he tried to write a song that reminded him of his long ago favorite.

This song is one of the few songs that it is fairly guaranteed that most Mormon children will know by heart before they reach their age of majority. It has been performed by Enoch Train, Ryan Shupe and the Rubberbands as well as inclusion in a LDS movie or two. It has also been made into a satire by John Bytheway (Somehow They Called Me On a Mission) and a spoof of the song was reported to travel around the BYU co-ed dorms for a while.

*****I hope they call you on a mission
So you'll be gone a year or two.
By then, I'll probably be married
So I'll no longer have to deal with jerks like you*****

This song is interesting in a few ways. One is its almost universal appeal- children like to sing it and seem quite exuberant about it. I do wonder how many children truly understand the lyrics and really want to go on missions based on thousands of repetitions of a song. I guess I also wonder how guys feel about this song in general. I mean, men are not really allowed to 'hope' they will be called- it is practically mandatory. So I think that girls can make the decision as they are growing up and 'hope to be called', but that is not the same situation as boys. And the church in many ways does not advocate for women to go on missions...

So, if you went on a mission, do you think that this song helped you 'decide early' to go on a mission? What does this song mean to you?


  1. Hi, my name is Bart. I'm the drummer in Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand. I like the history that you shared about this song- I didn't know who wrote it or why it was written. We had a lot of fun recording it with that old cowboy song feel. I went to Hungary on a mission (and the rest of the guys in the band went on missions too). I can't speak for them, but I don't think this song made me "decide early". I made my own personal choice to go. My favorite missionaries were people who really chose to go, who weren't "expected" to go or felt it was "mandatory". I think the church values this too as they "raised the bar" in recent years to make sure missionaries are going because they have a testimony, not because they feel pressured. Of course, I think there will always be a strong Mormon culture that emphasizes the importance of missionary work, but at it's heart I think there will always be testimony and the willingness and genuine desire to share it.

  2. For me I wanted to serve a mission. When I was Senior in High School the Lord told me he had other plans for me. I didn't understand and I was really upset but it all worked out and I understood later what his plans were for me. I wouldn't have changed them for the world. To me the song helped me to understand more about missions as a child and got me excited about missionaries and what they do. I still to this day really like this song but I don't know if it influences men to serve missions or not so that is a good question. I am grateful for those who do serve missions though and for Mark who did and his example to our family.

  3. Bart- I loved your comment! I was pretty shocked to see it as I have such a 'little blog'. My son loves the version that you recorded (and it is his favorite) and is the reason I chose the song to start off my song history on. I suspected when I asked the question that many missionaries didn't decide early... I decided to be an actress early... and I am not an actress today. But it was really nice to hear that my idea on that might be correct. Hope to hear from you again!

  4. Carolyn- I think that is wonderful that you wanted to serve a mission! I never, ever felt the urge to do so. When I prayed about it, I just felt that going on a mission would get me away from my family which didn't seem like a good reason to go. :) But I really value the testimonies from my friends and family who have gone. And gosh... I am lucky to have you as a sister in law so I am glad that Heavenly Father had other plans for you!