Strangers, whence came ye to the West;
Are ye the offspring of the sun,
That from his rising to his rest,
Through every clime he shines on, run?
So bright of eye, so dark of hue,
Surely your sire hath look'd on you.
Of higher lineage than the sun,
(But where our birthplace none can show,)
His track in heaven, on earth we run,
From where the waves of Ganges flow,
Or Nile's mysterious waters well
From Afric's heart, unsearchable.
Strangers and pilgrims everywhere,
In exile through the world we roam,
Yet catch no breath of natal air,
Yet find no place that once was home;
We meet no form to ours akin,
No door to welcome us within.
Our fathers came not on the wing,
Like swallows in their annual round,
Nor did their field-born households spring
Like flowers in April, from the ground;
Although, like flowers, or swallows led,
They might have risen from the dead:--
So simultaneously appear'd
Through many a land, a race, that sought
Not gold or conquest,--Hoped nor fear'd,
Weapon nor merchandise they brought;
But, where sweet spots of way-side green
Gave sun and shade, their tents were seen.
Ages since then are worn away,
And we, instinctively estranged,
From those with whom we dwell,--as they
That went before, remain unchanged;
Subtle though sinful, wild yet tame,
Looks, language, manners, minds, the same.
But must we so be born and die?
Must all our generations pass
Like clouds that vanish through the sky?
And single lives, like blades of grass
At day-break green, with dew-drops fed,
Ere noon be shorn, by night-fall dead?
Strangers, we hail you to the west,
Nameless no more, nor hopeless roam,
Here seek your hope, here find your rest,
Our country yours, and yours our home;
And this our bond of union be,
Ye are our brethren, yours are we.
Not Nile nor Ganges gave you birth,
Your parentage and ours is one;
Coeval with the heavens and earth,
The God who spake and it was done;
In His great name on you we call;
He is the Father of us all.
Leave then the wild, the lane, the wood,
Live not like brutes that perish thus;
O come, and we will do you good,
For God hath spoken good to us:
Come, we will teach you all His ways;
Come, and let both show forth His praise.
We come, we come, the world forsake;
With heart, soul, mind, and all their powers,
Your country and your home we take,
Your people and your God for ours;
Resolved with you to live and die,
Dwell where you dwell, lie where you lie.
Then, when our bodies, dust to dust,
And side by side, their Sabbath keep,
May our free souls among the just
Watch for that breaking up from sleep,
When once again, we all shall be,
Joint heirs of immortality.
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 >