Feast of Isaac Watts (November 25)   6 comments

Above:  Isaac Watts

Image in the Public Domain

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ISAAC WATTS (JULY 17, 1675-NOVEMBER 25, 1748)

English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

Church of England, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada feast day = November 25

Episcopal Church feast day = November 26

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His dying crimson, like a Robe,

Spreads o’er His Body on the Tree;

Then I am dead to all the Globe,

And all the Globe is dead to me.

–Isaac Watts (1707); the usually omitted verse of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross;” quoted in Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (St. Louis, MO:  Eden Publishing House, 1952), 213

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Isaac Watts was one of the greatest hymn writers in the English-speaking world.

Watts, born in Southampton, England, on July 17, 1675, came from a family of religious dissenters.  His father, Isaac (Sr.), spent time in prison due to religious opinions.  Our saint, well-educated from an early age, mastered Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  His religious affiliation prevented him from attending Cambridge or Oxford, however.  Watts, therefore, attended and graduated from the academy at Stoke Newington (now in London).  Starting in 1702, he spent a decade as minister at Mark Lane Chapel, London.

Watts suffered from bad health most of his life.  Failing health forced him to leave active ministry in 1712.  Our saint lived in the household of the Abney family for 36 years.  He could do little more than write, which he did.  Watts wrote books about language, theology, and logic.  He also composed more than 600 hymns and helped to facilitate the transition from metrical psalms to hymns.

Hymns by Watts include:

  1. “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross;”
  2. “Joy to the World;”
  3. “Jesus Shall Reign;” and
  4. “O God, Our Hope in Ages Past.”

Watts died at Stoke Newington, England, on November 25, 1748.  She was 73 years old.

Many of his hymns continue to nourish faith, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2019 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; AND FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

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God of truth and grace, you gave Isaac Watts singular gifts to present your praise in verse,

that he might write psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your Church:

Give us grace joyfully to sing your praises now and in the life to come;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 16:1-6

Psalm 108:1-6

Colossians 3:12-17

Luke 18:35-43

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 705

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