Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

portrait
James Montgomery
(1771–1854)

Words: James Mont­gom­e­ry, Feb­ru­a­ry 1823.

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

Alternate Tunes:

portrait
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

Lyrics

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.