A Moment from the History of Hymns
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was a gifted poet who could speak in rhyme when he was a young child. He could talk about the everyday events of life in poetry, and it could become annoying to his father.
One day, Isaac’s father told him that he would thrash him if he didn’t stop speaking in rhyme. The seven-year-old Watts looked up at his father and said,
“Father, please do some pity take;
And I shall no more verses make.”
As an adult, Watts was an extremely intelligent and highly educated man, so he made an effort to write hymns that could be understood by ordinary people. John Newton, the composer of “Amazing Grace,” noted that Watts was so intelligent that he had to make an effort to be simple. But Newton believed that he was so unintelligent that he should always try to do his very best!
Fortunately, Watts put his poetic gift to good use as a writer of hymns. He gave us the words to the majestic hymn
“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and to the famous Christmas carol “Joy to the World.” Isaac Watts is a tremendous example of a man who used his gifts and talents for the Lord; and in so doing, he left a great legacy in the world of hymnody.