James Montgomery is a striking example of a life which consisted of two contrasting halves. In the first half he achieved nothing for which he would be remembered now. But suddenly in mid-life, James blossomed into one of the premier English hymnwriters.
He was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, where his father was a Moravian minister. The Moravians were founded in 1457 – one of the ‘Protestant before the Reformation’ churches. They followed the teaching of Jan Hus, the Czech reformer.
Suffering persecution, they eventually found refuge on the lands of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf in 1727. There they experienced revival and began to spread all over the world, preaching the gospel.
Some schools would have simply expelled him. The Moravians, to their credit, sought a profession for him. He was put out as an apprentice to a baker.