Death of a Minister in His Prime

Representative Text

1 Go to the grave in all thy glorious prime,
In full activity of zeal and power;
A Christian cannot die before his time;
The Lord's appointment is the servant's hour.

2 Go to the grave: at noon from labour cease;
Rest on thy sheaves, thy harvest task is done;
Come from the heat of battle, and in peace,
Soldier! go home; with thee the fight is won.

3 Go to the grave, for there thy Saviour lay
In death's embraces, ere He rose on high;
And all the ransomed, by that narrow way,
Pass to eternal life beyond the sky.

4 Go to the grave? No, take thy seat above!
Be thy pure spirit present with the Lord,
Where thou for faith and hope hast perfect love,
And open vision for the written word.

Source: Methodist Hymn and Tune Book: official hymn book of the Methodist Church #582

Author: James Montgomery

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 >

Text Information

First Line: Go to the grave in all thy glorious prime
Title: Death of a Minister in His Prime
Author: James Montgomery
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Go to the grave in all thy glorious pride [prime]. J. Montgomery. [Burial.] Written in February, 1823, on the death of the Rev. John Owen, for some years a Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, who died at the close of 1822. In the issue of the Sheffield Iris for Dec. 21, 1824, it is given with the following note:—

“These lines were written nearly two years ago, at the request of a friend, and were not then designed for general circulation. This month, however, they have appeared in a popular periodical work by consent of the author. The circumstance is only mentioned to account for their late and perhaps unsuitable publication here."

The "popular periodical work" in which it appeared was the Christian Observer, Dec, 1824. In 1825 Montgomery included it, with the alteration of "glorious pride" to "glorious prime”, in his Christian Psalmist, No. 533, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, with the heading, “On the death of a Minister cut off in his usefulness." It was repeated in his Original Hymns, 1853. On May 11, 1854, stanzas iii.-vi. (stanzas i., ii. being omitted as unsuitable) were sung at Montgomery's funeral, to the tune “Brading," by Dr. Callcott, "arranged by W. H. Callcott." One of the first to bring this hymn into common use was Dr. Martineau, in his Hymns, &c, 1840. Its use in America is more extensive than in Great Britain.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



According to some sources, William H. Monk (PHH 332) wrote EVENTIDE for Lyte's text in ten minutes. As the story goes, Monk was attending a hymnal committee meeting for the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern of which he was music editor. Realizing that this text had no tune, Monk sat down at t…

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TOULAN was originally an adaptation of the Genevan Psalter melody for Psalm 124 (124). In one melodic variant or another and with squared-off rhythms, the tune was used in English and Scottish psalters for various psalm texts. It was published in the United States in its four-line abridged form (cal…

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The Cyber Hymnal #11018

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