Scripture Verse

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7


James Montgomery (1771–1854)
National Portrait Gallery


Words: James Mont­go­me­ry, Feb­ru­ary 1823.

Music: Ev­en­tide Will­iam H. Monk, 1861 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

William H. Monk (1823–1889)

Origin of the Hymn

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.

Julian, p. 431


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.

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

Go to the grave; though like a fall­en tree,
At once with ver­dure, flow­ers, and fruit­age crowned;
Thy form may per­ish, and thine hon­ors be
Lost in the mol­der­ing bo­som of the ground.

Go to the grave, which, faith­ful to its trust,
The germ of im­mor­ta­li­ty shall keep;
While safe, as watched by che­ru­bim, thy dust
Shall to the judg­ment day in Je­sus sleep.

Go to the grave, for there thy Sav­ior 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.

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.