Project Canterbury

Bishop Montgomery: A Memoir

By M.M.

[London] The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1933.



The funeral was largely attended by friends of every class and denomination, and the service was beautiful and impressive in its simplicity. One of the hymns chosen, "Through all the changing scenes of life," had been sung in Westminster Abbey on the bishop's wedding day. At the grave "Abide with me" was sung, and at the close of the service the Nunc Dimittis, a fitting tribute to a faithful servant of his Master.

The service was conducted by the Bishop of Deny. In his address he referred to a passage in the bishop's last book, Old Age, where he spoke of death as "the messenger that was sent to open the door to conduct the servant into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Bishop Montgomery," the preacher said, "spoke and thought thus of death because he walked with God all his life and had learned to have Jesus Christ as his friend. ..."

"Bishop Montgomery's name was a household word in all the world where the Church was, and after serving the Church all over the world he had come home to spend his last days in the Moville that he loved, in the home that he loved and among the people whom he loved."

On the Sunday after the bishop's death, his rector, the Rev. R. Benson, spoke feelingly of his life work, but especially of the eleven years that he had spent in his old home; of the daily prayer for every member of the parish; of his visits to the parishioners; of his constant words to hisi rector: "What can I do? Remember I stand by if you want me."

The rector concluded with these words:--

"In that which was greatest he faithfully served the great ones of the earth, in that which was least he set himself to a service no less faithful. In everything he served to the glory of God, and all his work was an expression of his devotion to God. May he be numbered with the saints in glory everlasting!"

A few only of many appreciations are added here.

The Archbishop of York. "I don't suppose that anyone in his generation did greater work for the Church than he did. The new attitude of the Church generally towards its world-wide work is very largely due to him. We have entered into a wonderful inheritance, which we owe to him."

The Bishop of Ossory. "One feels sure that when he passed over 'All the trumpets sounded on the other side.' "

A Friend. "The ideal bishop, so good that he made you feel his goodness, and so human that he made happiness in his presence."

"He was the greatest saint I ever met, he seemed to feel for everyone no matter what their troubles might be."

"A very great soul has gone to rest. His life will be an example to us all."

"The feeling that I had with Bishop Montgomery was always that he had 'been with Jesus.' "

"His unique combination of saintliness, humility, and humour endeared him to his friends. His intense belief in the powers and capacity of those with whom he was working never failed to bring out to the full their response and willing service."


Address given by Bishop Montgomery at the Inaugural Service of the Order of St. Michael and St. George on June 12th, 1906.

"Two voices are to be heard in this Cathedral to-day. The first says: These are the men who have built up and defended the Empire. They deserve all their honours; and in many a land dark faces look gratefully towards them, mindful of their unselfish work, of their kind and sympathetic rule. See how they carry on them the marks of a strenuous life in peace or in war. Pioneers too of our own race--they are mutely thanking many of this company for making life possible for the roadmakers and builders of the Empire. What would England be to-day without these men? There is truth in such language: but these are in no sense your thoughts, Knights and Companions of this Order--for to the regenerate and noble nature nothing is so humbling as the attainment of power or privilege. 'I am not worthy,' those are the words on your lips, and you dwell not upon the past, but upon the ideals which have guided you, which are still upon the horizon unfulfilled, for God and King and country. During this stately service your thoughts are likely also to have flown back thirty, forty, even fifty years, to the days of boyhood, when you dreamt of no marks of distinction, nor of taking part in such a gathering as this. You had been wondering how you have come to be a Standard Bearer, whilst the comrade equally gifted who had done quite as well gained no recognition. You wish he could have been with you to-day. One other thought of yours I venture to disclose. You are wondering whether your hardest work may not still be waiting to be done somewhere in the world, some battle yet to be fought, some crisis to be faced more supremely critical for England than any in the past. You look at one another asking who it is that shall do the deed or bear the strain that shall be the one thing needful in the next fifteen years for the British Empire. The one boon you ask is that you may finish your course with joy, or, as the lesson has said, 'Having done all, to stand.'

"The future, I think, and your duty yet to be done, is what absorbs your thoughts. And that frame of mind welcomes anything that is a call to prayer. Such a call in reality is the acquisition of a Chapel for the Order, and you have noted with what fulness of detail the gift has been accompanied. The presence of the Sovereign, the leading of the Grand Master, the ready acquiescence of the Bishop and his Chapter, have placed us in the Metropolitan Cathedral, in the heart of London, in a spot once given up to the memory of one of the greatest of Englishmen. Your personality is now to fill it, you who represent, speaking generally, so far as human judgment can effect it, the best talent of the Anglo-Saxon race at work beyond the seas. In place of the Duke of Wellington you are now made the guardians of the West Door of the Cathedral, hard by those broad steps which seem to typify the flood of our race rolling westward mightily, till it returns to us again from the East, bearing on its bosom the sheaves, we trust, of no selfish harvest.

"Let us make our Chapel no mere toy, but a means of grace, to be used for worship regularly at such times as the Grand Master shall direct. There from time to time let us lay our deeds, our aims, our failures, at God's feet; uniting in prayer for each other that we may not fail when our country calls, not forgetful of the absent members at their work, tenderly commemorating also the brethren who have departed this life.

"We can never raise higher than they are to-day the traditions of noble service in the cause of England, but at least we may pray that they may be sustained by us at their glorious level. So great is this aim, so noble and so difficult for men who must perforce be compassed with human infirmity, that the members of the Order are now invited to fall to prayer to obtain for their high office the whole armour of God as soldiers of Christ, as well as of the Sovereign of our Empire: that having done all--all that man can do that is noble and pure and great--you may not fall, but stand."

Project Canterbury