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 >
I left the God of truth and light. J. Montgomery. [Repentance.] In 1795, Montgomery commenced in his paper, the Sheffield Iris, a series of essays under the title of “The Whisperer, or Hints and Speculations, by Gabriel Silvertongue Gent." These essays, which were afterwards republished in a volume, abounded in the irreverent use of Holy Scripture The state of mind which prompted him thus to write continued, he says, " for the space of ten years." (Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 116.) On seeing clearly the wrong which he had done, he destroyed all the copies of the work which he could find, and penned this hymn, in 1807, in token of his true repentance. (Memoirs, vol. v. p. 364.) It was first published in the Evangelical Magazine, subsequently in Cotterill's Selection, 8th ed., 1819, No. 295; and then by Mont¬gomery as the first of his hymns in his Christian Psalmist, 1825. It is also in his Original Hymns, 1853, No. 17 lines. In the Christian Psalmist, stanza ii., lines 3, reads: “Through all His bonds of love I broke." In all his other works we find "bands" for "bonds." In his marked copy of the Christian Psalmist, he has changed "bonds" to "bands" in the margin. This is the authorized reading. In the Hymns & Songs of Praise, N. Y., 1874, No. 479, "Heartbroken, friendless, poor, cast down," is composed of stanzas vii., viii. of this hymn.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Display Title: I Left The God Of Truth And LightFirst Line: I left the God of truth and lightTune Title: KIAWAHAuthor: James MontgomerySource: The Christian Psalmist (Glasgow, Scotland: Chalmers & Collins, 1825)