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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 >
When like a stranger on our sphere. J. Montgomery. Public Hospitals.] Of this hymn there are two texts, details of which are as follows:—(1) It was written for the opening of the Sheffield Infirmary, October, 1797, and printed in Montgomery's Iris newspaper, Oct. 6,1797. In 1819 it was included in Cotterill’s Selection, No. 246, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines, and entitled "At a Sermon for an Infirmary." In 1825 this text was repeated, with slight alterations, in Montgomery's Christian Psalmist, No. 531, broken into 8 stanzas of 4 lines, entitled "For a Public Hospital." (2) Amongst the Montgomery manuscripts there is a manuscript of this hymn in 10 stanzas, and thus dated: "Revised, June 2, 1844." It is this revised text which was given by Montgomery in his Original Hymns, 1853, No. 286, under the heading "Hymn for the Opening of the Sheffield Infirmary, October, 1797," and from which Dr. Kennedy, in his Hymnologia Christiana 1863, and other modern editors have taken their text. The older hymnbooks have the text as in Cotterill’s Selection whilst most of the modern collections follow that of the Original Hymns, 1853.
The tune BROMLEY is usually credited to Jeremiah Clarke (1674-1707) but there is an authorship problem: the first published use of the tune and setting was Franz Josef Haydn's "O let me in th'accepted hour," a metrical setting of Psalm 69 in Improved Psalmody (1794). The earliest extant version attr…