Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) is an important person in the history of Christian hymn composition because his songs prepared the way for the practice of using songs in the majority of churches in the English-speaking world. Before Watts psalms or rhymes were used in congregational singing both in the official church of the United Kingdom and in the protestant churches. By using paraphrases of the psalms in “modern” English, Watts opened the door for the use of songs for congregational singing. For this reason he is known as “the father of Singing” - Internet site Liturgy & Cetera. As previously mentioned, Isaac Watts was a renowned writer of hymns. He also wrote about hymns. A hymn is an anthem, often dedicated to God.

Isaac Watts was born in Southhampton, England, on July 17, 1674 as the eldest of 8 children of which 6 survived. His parents were Dissenters. Although they were religious people, they disagreed with the official teachings of the Church or England. His father, also named Isaac, was even imprisoned for his religious opinions. This was a year after his marriage, at the time that Isaac was born.

Isaac was a gifted boy. By the time he was 4 yrs old he had already learned Latin, by the age of 9yrs he had learned Greek, French by 11 and Hebrew by 13. A doctor who recognized the intellectual capacity of the young boy, offered him an university training in Oxford or Cambridge. Dissenters however had been denied access to universities and the young Isaac did not want to deny his faith in favor of Anglicanism. Had his father suffered for nothing? Instead he went to the Academy of Stoke Newington, under the supervision of Thomas Rowe, pastor of the Independent Congregation of Girdlers Hall. It was also during that period that he joined this congregation. After a period of six years, during which he came to be friends with the son of the eminent puritan John Hartropp, in 1702 he became a preacher in London. At the same time he wrote books, essays, poems and hymns. 10 years later he became seriously sick. A rich benefactor, Thomas Abney, took him in his house for convalescence. Isaac continued to live there up to his death. Another noteworthy fact is that in 1725 he became a doctor of theology.

Isaac Watt died on 25 November 1748 in Stoke Newington. He was 74 years old.



Isaac Watts
1674 - 1748

In many hymns he used God’s name. We show a few.

Jehovah Reigns


Jehovah reigns—He dwells in light,
Girded with majesty and might:
The world, created by His hands,
Still on its first foundation stands.

But ere this spacious world was made,
Or had its first foundation laid,
Thy throne eternal ages stood,
Thyself the ever-living God.

Like floods, the angry nations rise,
And aim their rage against the skies;
Vain floods, that aim their rage so high!
At Thy rebuke the billows die.

For ever shall Thy throne endure;
Thy promise stands for ever sure;
And everlasting holiness
Becomes the dwellings of Thy grace.


The Lord Jehovah Reigns


The Lord Jehovah reigns; His throne is built on high.
The garments He assumes are light and majesty.
His glories shine
With beams so bright no mortal eye
Can bear the sight.

The thunders of His hand keep the wide world in awe;
His wrath and justice stand to guard His holy law.
And where His love
Resolves to bless His truth confirms
And seals the grace.

Through all His mighty works surprising wisdom shines—
Confounds the powers of hell, and breaks their cursed designs.
Strong is His arm,
And shall fulfill His great decrees,
His sovereign will.

And will this mighty King of glory condescend,
And will He write His name: My Father and my Friend?
I love His name;
I love His Word. Join, all my powers,
And praise the Lord!


Sing to the Lord Jehovah's Name


Sing to the Lord Jehovah’s name,
And in His strength rejoice;
When His salvation is our theme,
Exalted be our voice.

With thanks approach His awful sight,
And psalms of honor sing;
The Lord’s a God of endless might,
The whole creation’s king.

Let princes hear, and angels know,
How mean their natures seem,
These gods on high and gods below,
When once compared with Him.

Earth, with its caverns dark and deep,
Lies in His spacious hand;
He fixed the seas what bounds to keep,
And where the hills must stand.

Come, and with humble souls adore,
Come, kneel before His face;
O may the creatures of His power
Be children of His grace!

Now is the time; He bends His ear,
And waits for your request;
Come, lest He rouse His wrath and swear,
"Ye shall not see My rest."





- top -