By Ian Wilson
Without a doubt, one of the finest hymn writers in Protestant Christianity, Isaac Watts was born in 1674, while his father was imprisoned for his nonconformist beliefs. Though often in ill health and clinically depressed, Isaac Watts inherited his father’s steadfast character; a trait which kept him strong through fierce criticism, church splits and other hardships.
Discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm for singing the metrical psalms used in non-comformist churches at the time, Watts began writing hymns at a young age to encourage the faithful. His hymns, such as Joy To The World, and When I Survey The Wonderous Cross have become among the most popular in all of Protestant Christianity. Far from being opposed to singing Psalms, Watts only wished that they be sung with more fervency, expressing the joy that should fill the Christian’s heart when going to worship the Lord. His contemporaries fiercely challenged Watts on his hymnody, but Watts stood firm, maintaining that Christian worship should be accessible and understandable to the ordinary churchgoer.
Watts was a scholar as well as a poet, mastering four languages before the age of 15. He also wrote multiple volumes of sermons, over thirty theological treatises, and numerous books on logic, psychology, philosophy, and astronomy.
May we remember Isaac Watts for his unyielding dedication to the proper worship of God.