James Montgomery (b. Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, 1771; d. Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, 1854), the son of Moravian parents who died on a West Indies mission field while he was in boarding school, Montgomery inherited a strong religious bent, a passion for missions, and an independent mind. He was editor of the Sheffield Iris (1796-1827), a newspaper that sometimes espoused radical causes. Montgomery was imprisoned briefly when he printed a song that celebrated the fall of the Bastille and again when he described a riot in Sheffield that reflected unfavorably on a military commander. He also protested against slavery, the lot of boy chimney sweeps, and lotteries. Associated with Christians of various persuasions, Montgomery supported missio… Go to person page >
A children’s temple here we build. J. Montgomery. [The Erection of a Sunday School. This hymn was written for the opening of the first Sunday School building in Wincobank, Sheffield. The manuscript—which is in the Wincobank Hall Collection of Manuscripts—is dated “December 18, 1840,” and signed “J. M.” The building was opened on the 13th of April, 1841, the hymn being printed on a fly-leaf for the occasion. In 1853 Montgomery included it in his Original Hymns, No. 313, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines and entitled it “The erection of a Sunday School.” In the Methodist Sunday School Hymn Book 1879, No. 512, stanza iv. is omitted, and slight changes are also introduced. Original text in Original Hymns, 1853, p. 333. The hymn by Mrs. Gilbert, née AnnTaylor, “We thank the Lord of heaven and earth,” was also written for, and sung on, the same occasion. This hymn has not come into common use.