At every motion [moment] of our breath

Representative Text

At every motion of our breath,
Life trembles on the brink of death,
A taper's flame that upward turns,
While downward to the dust it burns.

A moment usher'd us to birth,
Heirs to the commonwealth of earth;
Moment by moment years are past,
And one ere long will be our last.

'Twixt that, long fled, which gave us light,
And that which soon shall end in night,
There is a point no eye can see,
Yet on it hangs eternity.

This is that moment,--who can tell
Whether it leads to heaven or hell?
This is that moment,--as we choose,
The immortal soul we save or lose.

Time past and time to come are not;
Time present is our only lot;
O God! henceforth our hearts incline
To seek no other love than thine.

Sacred Poems and Hymns

Author: James Montgomery

Montgomery, James, son of John Montgomery, a Moravian minister, was born at Irvine, Ayrshire, Nov. 4, 1771. In 1776 he removed with his parents to the Moravian Settlement at Gracehill, near Ballymena, county of Antrim. Two years after he was sent to the Fulneck Seminary, Yorkshire. He left Fulneck in 1787, and entered a retail shop at Mirfield, near Wakefield. Soon tiring of that he entered upon a similar situation at Wath, near Rotherham, only to find it quite as unsuitable to his taste as the former. A journey to London, with the hope of finding a publisher for his youthful poems ended in failure; and in 1792 he was glad to leave Wath for Shefield to join Mr. Gales, an auctioneer, bookseller, and printer of the Sheffield Register newspap… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: At every motion [moment] of our breath
Author: James Montgomery
Language: English


At every motion of our breath. J. Montgomery. [Value of Time.] Published in his Christian Psalmist, 1825, No. 512, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines and headed, "The Value of a Moment." In 1853 it was repeated in his Original Hymns, No. 224, but is not amongst the “M. MSS." It is usually given in an abbreviated form. In J. H. Thorn's Hymns, Chants, &c, 1858, it is in 3 stanzas, and in the Scottish Evangelical Union Hymnal, 1878, there are 4 stanzas. -- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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