The Godfather of English Hymnody
November 25, 1748
Today is the anniversary of the death of the English Christian minister (Congregational) and prolific hymn writer Isaac Watts.
Known as the "Godfather of English Hymnody," Isaac’s hymns are still sung in churches today: “O God our Help in Ages Past,” “There is a Land of Pure Delight.” There’s another Isaac Watts hymn that will be getting some traction over the next month: “Joy to the World.”
Isaac’s work marked a turning point for hymn writing because he didn’t just set psalms and scripture to song; he actually wrote original verse.
Isaac’s hymn, “We are a Garden Walled Around,” uses garden imagery and is a favorite with gardeners:
We are a garden walled around,
Chosen and made peculiar ground;
A little spot enclosed by grace
Out of the world's wide wilderness.
Like trees of myrrh and spice we stand,
Planted by God's almighty hand;
And all the springs in Zion flow,
To make the young plantation grow.
Awake, O, heavenly wind! And come,
Blow on this garden of perfume;
Spirit divine! descend and breathe
A gracious gale on plants beneath.
Make our best spices flow abroad,
To entertain our Savior God
And faith, and love, and joy appear,
And every grace be active here.