Stand Up and Bless the Lord -James Montgomery


This hymn was written by James Montgomery, who most hymnologists agree ranks next to Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley in contributions to English hymnody.  He was born in 1771 and at the age of six was sent to a Moravian school for his education. His parents went as missionaries to the West Indies, and he never saw them again. They both died serving the Lord on the mission field.


His parents had previously arranged that James would be cared for by the Moravians and had hoped that he would enter the ministry, but he thought he could best serve the Lord as a poet rather than as a preacher. By the time he was thirteen he had filled a journal with his verses, much to the dismay of his teachers who decided he would never make a preacher. They thought the only hope for him was to leave school and work at something useful.


At the age of fourteen James became a baker’s apprentice. He soon found the job boring and left to work as an assistant in a small general store. Dissatisfied, he still wanted to be a successful poet and went from place to place trying to sell his poetry. At the age of eighteen he went to London with bundles of his poetry stuffed in his bag. Several publishers encouraged him, but none was willing to publish his works. A year later, he was discouraged and he returned to his old job at the general store.


Soon after, he noticed an ad for the position of clerk and bookkeeper at the local newspaper, “The Sheffield Register.” He was hired, and within two years he became the editor, a position he held for thirty-one years. He found himself involved in journalism in interesting times; war with France seemed inevitable, and the British aristocracy was fearful of what took place in the French Revolution. He was jailed twice for his outspoken editorials on controversial issues that put him at odds with the government. He actively supported Bible societies and foreign missions. He never forgot that his parents gave their lives ministering in the West Indies and was a strong opponent of the slave trade.


Despite James Montgomery’s limited education, he was always interested in writing and had a lifelong literary career. He was a prolific writer, producing many hymns, poems and prose, but only his hymns have had the quality to last over time. Montgomery’s extensive Bible knowledge, his sensitive use of rhythm and simple, clear language made him one of the best layman hymn writers of the church. Some of his other well-known hymns include “Angels, From the Realms of Glory” and “In the Hour of Trial.”


When “Stand Up and and Bless the Lord” was introduced in 1824, it had been written for an anniversary celebration of the Red Hill Wesleyan Sunday school in Sheffield, England. It began, “Stand up and bless the Lord, ye children of His choice.” When the hymn was published the following year, he’d changed the word “children” to “people,” calling for God’s people to “stand up” and proclaim the glory of God. Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise (Nehemiah 9:5).


Stand up and bless the Lord,
Ye people of his choice;
Stand up, and bless the Lord your God,
With heart, and soul, and voice.
Though high above all praise,
Above all blessing high,
Who would not fear his holy name,
And laud, and magnify?
O for the living flame
From his own altar brought,
To touch our lips, our minds inspire,
And wing to heav'n our thought!
There with benign regard
Our hymns he deigns to hear;
Though unrevealed to mortal sense,
The Spirit feels him near.
God is our strength and song,
And his salvation ours;
Then be his love in Christ proclaimed
With all our ransomed pow'rs.
Stand up and bless the Lord,
The Lord your God adore;
Stand up, and bless his glorious name,
Henceforth and evermore.


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