This Sunday is our fifth, and final Sunday, to sing Jesus Shall Reign (Psalm 72) —our Psalm for the month of April at Parish Pres. Our Psalm for the month of May will be Call Jehovah, Your Salvation (Psalm 91) written in 1822 by James Montgomery and set to an original melody in 1996.
James Montgomery was born in 1771 in Scotland where his father was a pastor in the Moravian Church. At the age of five, the family moved to Ireland, and by the age of seven, James’ parents sent him to York to begin seminary training.
In seminary, Montgomery began to write poetry and planned to write two epics after the style of John Milton. Not called to the ministry, he worked through various apprenticeships until he eventually became the editor of the Sheffield Iris for more than thirty years. Having drifted from the church, Montgomery recommitted himself to Christianity at the age of forty-three, and began to be active in Abolition work, the Bible Society, and various missionary endeavors.
Montgomery turned his poetic gift to writing hymns and metrical Psalms—about 400 published in three volumes. In addition, he started the study of hymn writers, lectured at the Royal Institution, and continued to publish other volumes of his poetry and anti-slavery works.
He never married, and died quietly in his sleep at the age of 83. The people of Sheffield honored him with a public funeral, a statue in the cemetery, and a stained glass window in the parish church. His best known hymns include: Angels from the Realms of Glory, Shepherd of Souls Refresh and Bless (which we sang last week), Stand Up and Bless the Lord, and Hail to the Lord’s Anointed.