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

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 & 16, 1818.

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

portrait
James Montgomery
(1771–1854)

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

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.