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 & 16, 1818.
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 theportions of his historyto 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