Scripture Verse

Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:11

Introduction

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James Montgomery
1771–1854
National Portrait Gallery

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Words: James Mont­go­me­ry, 1818. Mont­go­me­ry wrote this hymn to ac­com­pa­ny the An­ni­ver­sa­ry Ser­mons of the Red Hill Wes­ley­an Sun­day School in Shef­field, Eng­land. The ser­mons were preached on March 15 and 16, 1818.

Music: Fer­nie­hurst, from The Me­tho­dist Hym­nal (New York & Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio: Me­tho­dist Book Con­cern, 1905), num­ber 250 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

Origin of the Hymn

There are few, if any, more sol­emn and im­pres­sive hymns in the lang­uage than this. It is said to have been found­ed on the au­thor’s own sad and bi­tter ex­pe­ri­ence, out of which he was hap­pi­ly led by the Spi­rit of God, and thus en­a­bled to write this most use­ful and im­press­ive hymn.

Describing that un­hap­py pe­ri­od of his life, he said:

My rest­less and imag­in­a­tive mind and my wild and un­gov­ern­a­ble imag­in­a­tion have long ago brok­en loose from the an­chor of faith, and have been dri­ven, the sport of winds and waves, ov­er an ocean of doubts, round which ev­ery coast is de­fend­ed by the rocks of des­pair that for­bid me to en­ter the har­bor in view.

This is one of the por­tions of his his­to­ry to which he re­fers as pre­par­ing him to write with heart­felt pe­ni­tence and gra­ti­tude this hymn.

Nutter, p. 133

Lyrics

O where shall rest be found,
Rest for the wea­ry soul?
’Twere vain the ocean’s depths to sound,
Or pierce to ei­ther pole.

The world can ne­ver give
The bliss for which we sigh;
’Tis not the whole of life to live,
Nor all of death to die.

Beyond this vale of tears,
There is a life above,
Unmeasured by the flight of years,
And all that life is love.

There is a death, whose pang
Outlasts the fleet­ing breath:
O what eter­nal hor­rors hang
Around the second death!

Lord God of truth and grace,
Teach us that death to shun;
Lest we be ban­ished from Thy face,
And ev­er­more un­done.

Here would we end our quest:
Alone are found in Thee,
The life of per­fect love—the rest
Of im­mor­tal­i­ty.