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 >
Lord, when we search the human heart. J. Montgomery. [The World in the Heart.] This hymn was written on the blank page of a juvenile missionary address prepared by Mr. George Cookman, of Hull. Montgomery mentions his having written it in a letter to Mr. Cookman's father, dated "Sheffield, June 24, 1819" (Montgomery's Memoirs, iii. p. 169). The hymn was included in Cotterill's Selection, 8th ed., 1819, No. 338, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. In Montgomery's Christian Psalmist, 1825, No. 549, it was repeated with slight variations, and the addition of a new stanza (viii.). This text with stanza vii. 1. 2, "Thy name and knowledge," changed to "Thy name, Thy knowledge," is in his Original Hymns, 1853, No. 170.