As with many authors and artist a century or more ago, life wasn’t always easy for James Montgomery, yet the Lord used him to bless us all at Christmas time with a beautiful carol reminding us that because Christ’s birth was such a blessed event, He sent angels from the realms of glory to announce it. These angels came to men who were considered the lowest economically and socially at the time – lowly shepherds. Men who were dirty, smelly and unknown saw and heard these angels.
James Montgomery was orphaned at an early age. His parents were Moravian Missionaries who died on the mission field while in the West Indies. He grew up in a time when Ireland and England were intensely divided and when class warfare was a constant reminder of how wealth and poverty divides people and sets one man against another. During this political climate, Montgomery wrote “Angels, From the Realms of Glory.”
It told the story of angels proclaiming the birth of the Savior for all people – Irish and English, poor and rich, Anglican and Moravian. In a strange twist of life, his hymn, which is both beautiful and biblically sound, touched more lives for Christ than his parents did in all their years of missionary work.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13-14
These were the words that inspired James Montgomery to write the poem that was published on December 24, 1816. After reading the Biblical account of the first Christmas, he penned the words to a beautiful Christmas poem. Montgomery owned a newspaper in London, England that he called The Sheffield Iris. He published the poem in his paper on that Christmas Eve. Later, in 1867, Henry Smart set the poem to music. It was at this time that the carol “Angels From the Realms of Glory” was named.
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye, who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.
Shepherds in the field 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.
- Famous Christmas Carols – Story Behind the Carol – “Angels We Have Heard on High” – Glory to God in the Highest (jlue.wordpress.com)
- Angels from the Realms of Glory (majestichymns.wordpress.com)
- Famous Christmas Carols – Story Behind the Carol – “What Child Is This?” (jlue.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Religious Poems (specialchristmastraditions.wordpress.com)
- Famous Christmas Carols – The Story Behind the Carol – O’Holy Night (jlue.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Carols – The Story Behind the Carol – Little Drummer Boy (jlue.wordpress.com)
- Famous Christmas Carols – Story Behind the Carol – “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” (jlue.wordpress.com)
- This Year’s Christmas Music (pendernews.org)