He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:3
Even as a child, hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748) liked to make rhymes. Once when he was scolded by his father for making them in ordinary conversation, he responded,
“Oh, Father, do some pity take, and I will no more verses make.”
As an older teenager, he complained about the ponderous psalms the church was singing. His exasperated father told Issac that if he was dissatisfied he should write something better. So he did. For the next two years the young Watts wrote a new hymn every week.
Isaac Watts had much he could have complained and been sorry for himself about. He was only five feet tall, and his big head made his body look even smaller. Plus, he had a long, hooked nose. He was sickly from his teenage years, as well, when smallpox nearly killed him. In his early adult years, one woman fell in love with his poetry and wanted to marry him. Watts even proposed to her, but his physical appearance caused her to reject him. He remained a bachelor all his life.
For his last thirty-six years he was an invalid, preaching only occasionally as his health would permit. But he wrote hymns continually, hymns of praise to God, “for all our comforts here, and better hopes above.” As Isaac Watts knew so well, when we give praise to God, our personal concerns are put into proper perspective. My favorite is, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”
We never know how deeply our actions affect the lives of others. In the case of Isaac Watts, not only did his hymns such as “Joy To The World” and “At The Cross” touched the lives of millions through the centuries but one thirty-year-old blind woman heard a revival choir sing one of his simple hymns called, “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?” Stanza after stanza stirred her heart, but when the choir came to the final line, “Here Lord, I give myself away,” she gave herself away to the Lord as well.
That blind woman was Fanny Crosby, who went on to become the greatest writer of gospel songs in the past century such as, “Redeemed,” “Blessed Assurance,” and “To God Be The Glory.” We never know how deeply our lives will touch the lives of others. Maranatha!
*Source: William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen, “The One Year Book of Hymns,” Tyndale House