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 >
Free, yet in chains, the mountains stand. J. Montgomery. [Christian Union.] Written for the Sheffield Sunday School Union, Whitsuntide gathering, 1837, and printed on a flyleaf for that occasion, [M. MSS.] It was included in his Original Hymns, 1853, No. 154, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Christian Union symbolized by Natural Objects." In the Scottish Evangelical Union Hymnal, 1878, it begins, "Free, though in chains, the mountains stand." This reading is found in some copies of the Original Hymns, but is not the original text.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)