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 >
Let there be light! Thus spake the Word. J. Montgomery. [Missions.] This hymn was printed in the Evangelical Magazine, June, 1818, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed "Hymn composed for the Anniversary of the Missionary Society by J. Montgomery, Esq., and sung at Spa Fields Chapel, May 14th, 1818." It was included in Cotterill's Selection, 8th ed., 1819, No. 236, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines. In Montgomery's Christian Psalmist, 1825, No. 554, stanza iv. is omitted, and the rest are divided into 6 stanzas of 4 lines. This form is repeated in his Original Hymns, 1853, No. 260, is the revised text, and is in several collections in Great Britain and America. The hymn "From day to day, before our eyes," in Beecher's Plymouth Collection, 1855, the N. Y. Songs for the Sanctuary, 1865, and other American hymnbooks, is composed of st. iv.-viii. of the Evangelical Magazine text of 1818. (Cotterill’s stanzas iii., iv.).