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 >
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."