James Montgomery (History Today) [eBook]
A man for all seasons
It is quite remarkable that until now no substantial biography has appeared to recount the life of James Montgomery (1771-1854). His memoirs were published in 7 volumes in 1856, several lectures have been given in more recent times and a book of Montgomery’s poems was published in 2000. Readers are now able to acquaint themselves with the life, experiences and work of this godly man in a modern biography. .James Montgomery was born in Scotland, educated and nurtured by evangelical Moravians in West Yorkshire and then spent many years of his life in Sheffield serving of the lord, making known the gospel of grace, initiating and supporting many Christian causes. He was a literary figure of some stature, editing a newspaper and writing numerous hymns, many of which are still sung by congregations today.
Paul Taylor is a Yorkshireman, born in Barnsley. He was educated at Ecclesfield Grammar School (Sheffield) and then trained as a Chartered Municipal and Civil Engineer. He worked in Wath on Dearne, Buxton and Sheffield, all places associated with James Montgomery. He ended his local government career in 1987 when he was Chief Technical Officer at Rugby Borough Council. He then joined a Birmingham firm of Civil and Structural Engineers as a partner. After studies at the Nazarene Theological College at Didsbury, he was awarded MA (Theology) by the University of Manchester in 1997.
Paul was for many years an accredited Methodist local preacher and has served the Lord in a preaching and teaching ministry for 55 years. His written works include ‘Travelling Man’ (with Howard Mellor), the life and work of Rev Arthur Skevington Wood; ‘Bold as a Lion’ (with Dr Peter Gentry), the life of John Cennick an 18th century Moravian evangelist and hymn-writer; ‘Sleepers Awake – the Gospel and Post Modernism’; and ‘Charles Wesley – Evangelist’.
Paul Taylor is a conservative evangelical by conviction and experience with an interest in historical biography and hymnology. He is married to Margaret and they have two children and four grandchildren.
James Montgomery is one of our great hymn writers, deservedly standing alongside Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts. In his day, he was acclaimed a great poet and social reformer. A successful business man, he was a publisher, newspaper proprietor and editor. Above all else he was a man of steadfast Christian faith. There has long been a need for a modern assessment of Montgomery’s life and achievements. Paul Taylor’s book fills the gap admirably. He presents a balanced and lively study of this remarkable man. The book will be a valuable reference work, but it is more than this: it is an eminently readable story of the influences that made Montgomery and of the impact he had upon local and national events of the early 19th century. Montgomery lives on in his hymns. Paul Taylor convinces us that even without the hymns. There is a fascinating story to be told.
—George Tolley, Canon City Emeritus of Sheffield Cathedral, Former Principal of Sheffield city Polytechnic
I enjoyed reading Paul Taylor’s book ‘A Man for all People’. The extensive bibliography indicates wide reading around the subject and the author’s appreciation of the man and his works comes through clearly. Although I had known of and read about James Montgomery since my days at Fulneck School, it was a pleasure to see this easy-reading account of his life and work. Like many in the Moravian Church, Montgomery was a traveller and worked hard on both missionary and Bible tours. As a social reformer, his anti-slavery work and campaigns against chimneysweep boys are recorded. The appendices are helpful in providing additional background information and the chapter on Montgomery’s hymns is particularly interesting. This volume will give a general introduction to the man for all people and, as Montgomery himself says, ‘This is the way God’s gifts to use, first enjoy and then diffuse.’
—Bishop John McOwat, a Bishop in the Moravian Church
The memorial statue to James Montgomery has been dusted down and re-sited adjacent to Sheffield Cathedral. But who was he, and what were his achievements? Paul Taylor has helpfully provided the answer in this new and long overdue biography. Poet, hymn-writer, journalist, zealous Christian, and agitator for good causes, Montgomery should be better known. Twice committed to prison for comments on sensitive political issues, Taylor has let him loose to edify us.
—Paul E G Cook, Pastor, Preacher and Writer