Go to Dark Gethsemane

Representative Text

1 Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter's pow'r;
Your Redeemer's conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

2 Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff'ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.

3 Calv'ry's mournful mountain climb
There' adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God's own sacrifice complete:
"It is finished!" Hear the cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.

4 Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom;
Who hath taken Him away?
Christ is ris'n! He meets our eyes:
Savior, teach us so to rise.

Baptist Hymnal, 1991

Author: James Montgomery

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 >

Text Information

First Line: Go to dark Gethsemane
Title: Go to Dark Gethsemane
Author: James Montgomery (1825)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Mark 14:32-42
st. 2 = John 18:28, John 19:16, 1 Pet. 2:21
st. 3 = John 19:17-30

James Montgomery (PHH 72) wrote two versions of "Go to Dark Gethsemane," the first of which appeared in Thomas Cotterill's Selection of Psalms and Hymns in 1820. The second version, originally published in his Christian Psalmist (1825), is the more common one found in hymnals today. Small alterations have been made in the text, most notably the change from a command ("learn of Jesus Christ to pray") to a prayer of petition in the final phrase in each stanza. Many hymnals delete his original fourth stanza, which focused on Christ's resurrection.

The text exhorts us to follow Christ as we meditate on his sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane (st. 1), on his suffering on the cross (st. 2), and on his sacrificial death (st. 3); each stanza ends with a corresponding petition.

Liturgical Use:
Holy Week, especially on Good Friday.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Go to dark Gethsemane. J. Montgomery. [Passiontide.] Of this popular hymn there are two texts, differing widely from each other, and both by Montgomery. The first appeared in Cotterill's Selection, 1820, and subsequent editions. It reads thus:—

"The last sufferings of Christ.
1. “Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter's power;
Your Redeemer's conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour:
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn from Him to watch and pray.
2. "See Him at the judgment-hall,
Beaten, bound, reviled, arraign'd:
See Him meekly bearing all!
Love to man His soul sustain'd!
Shun not suffering, shame or loss;
Learn of Christ to bear the cross.
3. "Calvary's mournful mountain view;
There the Lord of Glory see,
Made a sacrifice for you,
Dying on the accursed tree:
‘It is finish'd,' hear Him cry:
Trust in Christ, and learn to die.
4. "Early to the tomb repair,
Where they laid his breathless clay;
Angels kept their vigils there:
Who hath taken Him away?
‘Christ is risen!' He seeks the skies;
Saviour! teach us so to rise."

In 1825, Montgomery included this hymn in its second and revised form in his Christian Psalmist, No. 491, as follows:—

"Christ our example in suffering.
1. “Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter's power
Your Redeemer's conflict see,
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from bis griefs away,
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
2. "Follow to the judgment-hall,
View the Lord of life arraign'd;
O the wormwood and the ga!
O the pangs his soul sustain'd!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss,
Learn of Him to bear the cross.
3. "Calvary's mournful mountain climb;
There adoring at his feet,
Mark that miracle of Time, —
God's own sacrifice complete
’It is finish'd';—hear their cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.
4. "Early hasten to the tomb,
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom, —
Who hath taken Him away ?
Christ is risen:—He meets our eyes;
Saviour, teach us so to rise."

[In Montgomery's marked copy of the 1st edition, stanza iii., line 5, reads "hear their cry." In the margin he altered it in manuscript to "hear Him cry:" and this reading was given in later editions. In his Original Hymns, 1853, it reads, "hear the cry."]

From the year 1825 the original and this revised text have passed on, side by side, unto the present date, one editor copying from Cotterill's Selection, and another from Montgomery's Christian Psalmist, until, of the hymnals now in common use, of those which have adopted the hymn, about one-third have the original text of 1820, and, with a few exceptions, yet to be noted, the remaining two-thirds have the text of 1825. Amongst those adopting the original text are many of the Public School collections, as Rugby, Harrow, Marlborough, &c, and also Mercer, Kennedy, Pott, The Anglican Hymn Book, Barry, Church Hymns, &c, sometimes with abbreviations and very slight alterations. Those following the revised form of 1825, include Hymns Ancient & Modern, Hymnal Companion, Turing's Collection, Snepp, Alford, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Psalms & Hymns and others, and also most of the collections of the Nonconformists. In America, where it is in extensive use, the text usually adopted is that of 1825. In many cases it must be noted that stanza iv., “Early hasten to the tomb," is omitted. Another form in three stanzas was given in Hall's Mitre Hymn Book, 1836. This is repeated in the New Mitre Hymnal, 1875, but is seldom if ever found elsewhere.
It will be seen from the foregoing that Mr. Ellerton's somewhat elaborate note in the S. P. C. K. Church Hymns, folio edition p. lxvi., is based on an error, in concluding that the text in Church Hymns was altered by an unknown hand from Montgomery's Christian Psalmist, 1825, whereas it is Montgomery's text of 1820, with two very slight alterations only. Original text as above; author's revised and authorized text in his Original Hymns, 1853.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Go to dark Gethsemane, p. 430, ii. Nearly all the alterations in the revised version of this hymn as printed on p. 430 were given in the Leeds Selection, 1822, No. 804, which shows that the revision was originally made for that Selection and not for the Christian Psalmist.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)



REDHEAD 76 is named for its composer, who published it as number 76 in his influential Church Hymn Tunes, Ancient and Modern (1853) as a setting for the hymn text "Rock of Ages." It has been associated with Psalm 51 since the 1912 Psalter, where the tune was named AJALON. The tune is also known as P…

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