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 >
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.).
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)