Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Posted on 23rd October 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories


Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! (Psalm 72:1-4)

James Montgomery (1771-1854) was a prolific poet and hymn writer, with over four-hundred hymns to his name. He started out his working life as a baker in Mirfield, but decided to make the long journey from Yorkshire to London in order to establish himself as a poet. Setting out with three shillings and sixpence he ran out money before he crossed the Yorkshire border, so took a job in nearby Wath. After a while, with a bigger sum in his pocket, he set out again and made it to London where his work was received with no critical acclaim at all. Disappointed, he trudged back to Wath and took up shop work once more.

He ended up as an editor of a newspaper in Sheffield, and was twice imprisoned for publishing poems which offended the authorities. Finally, in 1806, he received critical acclaim at last, for his poem The Wanderer of Switzerland which criticised the French Revolution. If you drive around Sheffield then you will still find roads named in his honour, and a statue of him outside the cathedral.

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed is a paraphrase of Psalm 72, and was first read as a poem by Montgomery at the end of a missionary meeting in Liverpool in 1822. The Psalm, like the hymn, deals with the righteous rule of God stretching over the globe, and to all peoples. When read with Christ in mind it is great prophecy of the spread of Christianity across the globe.

Hail to the Lord's Anointed!
Great David's greater Son;
Hail in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captive free;
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.

He comes with succour speedy,
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy,
And bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing,
Their darkness turn to light;
Whose souls, condemn'd and dying,
Were precious in His sight.

By such shall He be feared,
While sun and moon endure,
Beloved, obey'd, revered;
For He shall judge the poor,
Through changing generations,
With justice, mercy, truth,
While stars maintain their stations
Or moons renew their youth.

He shall come down like showers,
Upon the fruitful earth,
And love, joy, hope, like flowers,
Spring in His path to birth:
Before Him, on the mountains,
Shall Peace, the herald, go;
And Righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.

Arabia's desert-ranger
To Him shall bow the knee,
The Ethiopian stranger
His glory come to see:
With offerings of devotion,
Ships from the Isles shall meet,
To pour the wealth of ocean
In tribute at His feet.

Kings shall fall down before Him,
And gold and incense bring,
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all people sing:
For He shall have dominion
O'er river, sea, and shore,
Far as the eagle's pinion
Or dove's light wing can soar

Flesh and Spirit

22nd October 2020

Adopted

24th October 2020

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