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 >
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)