Indelible Grace Hymnbook

Isaac Watts

Born: Ju­ly 17, 1674, South­amp­ton, Eng­land.

Died: No­vem­ber 25, 1748, Stoke New­ing­ton, Eng­land.

Buried: Bun­hill Fields Cem­etery, Lon­don, Eng­land.

Watts’ fa­ther was Non­con­form­ist im­pris­oned twice for his re­li­gious views. Isaac learned Greek, La­tin, and He­brew un­der Mr. Pin­horn, Rec­tor of All Saints, and head­mas­ter of the Gram­mar School in South­amp­ton. Isaac’s taste for verse showed it­self in ear­ly child­hood, and his prom­ise caused a lo­cal doc­tor and other friends to of­fer him a un­i­ver­si­ty ed­u­ca­tion, as­sum­ing he would be or­dained in the Church of Eng­land. How­ev­er, Isaac de­clined and in­stead en­tered a Non­con­for­mist Acad­e­my at Stoke New­ing­ton in 1690, un­der the care of Tho­mas Rowe, pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent cong­re­ga­tion at Gird­lers’ Hall; Isaac joined this con­gre­ga­tion in 1693.

Watts left the Acad­e­my at age 20 and spent two years at home; it was dur­ing this per­i­od that he wrote the bulk of his Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs. They were sung from man­u­scripts in the South­amp­ton Cha­pel, and pub­lished 1707-09.

The next six years of his life were again spent at Stoke New­ing­ton, work­ing as tu­tor to the son of em­i­nent Pur­i­tan John Har­topp. The in­tense stu­dy of these years is re­flect­ed in the the­o­log­ic­al and phil­o­soph­ic­al ma­ter­i­al he sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished.

Watts preached his first ser­mon at age 24. In the next three years, he preached fre­quent­ly, and in 1702 was or­dained as pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent con­gre­ga­tion in Mark Lane. At that time he moved in­to the house of a Mr. Hol­lis in the Mi­nor­ies. His health be­gan to fail the next year, and Sam­u­el Price was ap­point­ed as his as­sist­ant in the min­is­try. In 1712, a fe­ver shat­tered his con­sti­tu­tion, and Price be­came co-pas­tor of the con­gre­ga­tion, which had moved to a new cha­pel in Bu­ry Street. It was at this time that Isaac be­came the guest of Sir Tho­mas Ab­ney. He lived with Ab­ney (and lat­er Abney’s wi­dow) the rest of his life, main­ly at The­o­balds in Hert­ford­shire, then for 13 years at Stoke New­ing­ton.

In 1728, the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Ed­in­burgh award­ed Watts a Doc­tor of Di­vin­i­ty de­gree. Watts’ works in­clude:

Speculations on the Hu­man Na­ture of the Lo­gos
Horæ Lyr­i­cæ, 1706-09
Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs, 1707-09
The Di­vine and Mor­al Songs for the Use of Child­ren, 1715
The Psalms of Da­vid Im­i­tat­ed in the Lan­guage of the New Tes­ta­ment (Lon­don: J. Clark, 1719)
Sermons, 1721-27
Reliquiae Ju­ve­niles: Mis­cel­lan­e­ous Thoughts in Prose and Verse, on Na­tur­al, Mor­al, and Di­vine Sub­jects (Lon­don: 1734)
Remnants of Time (Lon­don: 1736)
The Im­prove­ment of the Mind, 1741
The World to Come, 1745
Catechisms, Scrip­ture His­to­ry, 1732

Source: The Cyber Hymnal