Isaac Watts (1674-1748) is known as the “Father of English Hymnody”. He is credited with about 750 hymns. Many of which are still being used today. He was not the first writer of English hymns, but he created hymns which were a human offering to God, rather than solely from the Psalms. Watts also maintained that if the Psalms were to be used, they should be Christianized and aligned to New Testament teachings.
Isaac Watts wrote two types of hymns – “hymns of human composure”, based on Isaac’s own words and “hymns based on the Psalms” but with Isaac’s words and ideas added.
Isaac Watts was born on July 17, 1674. He was born premature. He was a talented child, learning Latin at four, Greek at nine and Hebrew at thirteen. He was an expert at rhyme and verse. At age seven, he wrote an acrostic poem to his name ISAAC WATTS:
I am a vile polluted lump of earth;
So I’ve continued ever since my birth;
Although Jehovah grace does daily give me,
As sure as this monster Satan will deceive me.
Come therefore, Lord, from Satan’s claws relieve me.
Wash me in thy blood, O Christ,
And grace divine impart;
Then search and try the corners of my heart,
That I in all things may be fit to do
Service to Thee, and sing thy praises too.
(From Arthur P. Davis: Isaac Watts, p.7)
Note the Calvinistic theology that can be found in this poem.
Isacc graduated from grammer school in Southampton, then enrolled in a college level school for Dissenters in Stoke Newington, London. After graduation, he returned to Southampton.
His first hymn is Behold the Glories of the Lamb, which was written when he was about 15. He wrote it on Sunday after returning from a service in which the singing was deplorable.
Isaac also wrote When I Survey The Wondrous Cross which is considered the finest hymn written in the English Language.
I Sing The Mighty Power of God is another famous hymn by Watts.