Isaac Watts was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England in 1674. His father was a nonconformist and Isaac became the same. Because of his nonconformist views, he was not able to attend Oxford or Cambridge, both of which were restricted to Anglicans. Instead he attended the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington. After graduating, he became the pastor of Mark Lane Congregational Chapel, yet his theology was more nondenominational or ecumenical than nonconformist Congregationalist.
Isaac Watts is best remembered as a prolific hymn writer. However he was also a theologian and logician. He wrote many books and essays, including his book Logic, in which he divided logic into four parts: perception, judgement, reasoning, and method. That book became the standard text on logic at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale. It was used at Oxford for more than 100 years. In 1741, Watts wrote a supplement to his famous book, titled, The Improvement of the Mind, which was widely used in schools to teach morals.
Many of the hymns Watts wrote are still sung often today. His best known ones include the popular Christmas song, Joy to the World (based on Psalm 98), Our God, Our Help in Ages Past (based on Psalm 90), and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,
The Man — Isaac Watts
The Song — When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Watch -- Stories behind the songs and those who wrote them:
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Who was Isaac Watts? What's the Story Behind "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross?"
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