Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 13

James Montgomery, 1771–1854
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (Luke 2:9)
All my heart this night rejoices as I hear, far and near,
Sweetest angel voices. “Christ is born” their choirs are singing,
Till the air everywhere now with joy is ringing.
—Paul Gerhardt
“Angels, From the Realms of Glory” is considered by many students of hymnody to be one of our finest Christmas hymns. In a unique style it addresses first the angelic chorus in the first stanza, then the shepherds in the second stanza, the wise men in the third, and finally today’s believers—calling all to worship Christ our King. Worship is the very essence of the entire Christmas story.
James Montgomery was known as a deeply devoted, noble person who made an important contribution to English hymnody through his many inspiring texts. At the age of 23 he was appointed editor of the weekly Sheffield Register in London, maintaining this position for the next 31 years. As editor of this paper Montgomery championed many different causes, such as the abolition of slavery. “Angels, From the Realms of Glory” first appeared as a poem in Montgomery’s newspaper on December 24, 1816. Later it was published in a hymnal titled Montgomery’s Original Hymns and was known as “Good Tidings of Great Joy to All People.”
Angels, from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth; ye who sang creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Shepherds, in the fields abiding, watching o’er your flocks by night, God with man is now residing; yonder shines the infant Light:
Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar; seek the great desire of nations; ye have seen His natal star:
Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear, suddenly the Lord, descending, in His temple shall appear:
Refrain: Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the new-born King.

    For Today: Isaiah 7:14; Haggai 2:7; Matthew 2:1–9, 23; Luke 2:7–20; John 1:14

Just as the angels, shepherds, and wise men all bowed their knee in the worship of Christ, may we pause in our busy lives to do the same. Carry this musical reminder with you—

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