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 >
The poorest of the poor are we. J. Montgomery. [Ragged Schools.] Under the date of 1849, Holland says in his Memoirs of Montgomery, vol. vii. p. 216:—
"We [Mr. J. Everett and himself] found that our entrance had arrested his pen in the midst of transcribing a hymn which he had been requested to compose for the use of Ragged Schools. On being requested to favour us with a hearing of the verses, he read what he had written, but with such an involuntary accompaniment of deep feeling that we felt more pain than pleasure in the affecting incident."
This hymn is in 9 stanzas of 4 lines in Montgomery's Original Hymns, 1853. In its full form it is not in common use but st. ix. vi.-viii, are given in Martineau's Hymns, &c, 1873, No. 373, as "O God, most merciful and just."
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)