Hymn History ~ When I Can Read My Title Clear

“The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” — Isaiah 25:8DSC_0469.jpegWritten by Isaac Watts

Tune name — Pisgah

“When I can read my title clear to mansions in the skies,
I bid farewell to every fear, and wipe my weeping eyes.
And wipe my weeping eyes, and wipe my weeping eyes
I bid farewell to every fear, and wipe my weeping eyes.

“Should earth against my soul engage, and fiery darts be hurled,
Then I can smile at Satan’s rage, and face a frowning world.
And face a frowning world, and face a frowning world,
Then I can smile at Satan’s rage, and face a frowning world.

“Let cares, like a wild deluge come, and storms of sorrow fall!
May I but safely reach my home, my God, my heav’n, my all.
My God, my heav’n, my all, my God, my heav’n, my all,
May I but safely reach my home, my God, my heaven, my all.

“There shall I bathe my weary soul in seas of heavenly rest,
And not a wave of trouble roll, across my peaceful breast.
Across my peaceful breast, across my peaceful breast,
And not a wave of trouble roll, across my peaceful breast.


 “My design was not to exalt myself to the rank and glory of poets, but I was ambitious to be a servant to the churches and a helper to the joy of the meanest Christian” ~ Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was born on July 17, 1674, in Southampton, England, the first born of nine children. His father was a deacon of a non-conformist congregational church, and was in prison when his first child was born because of his beliefs.

As Isaac Watts grew, it became apparent that God had blessed him with an unique gift of writing and the ability to learn different languages. When he was five, he could speak latin. When he was nine he learned greek. He learned french at eleven and hebrew at thirteen. When he was eight, his mother found some verses with his name on them. Doubting that he had written them, she asked him about it. He then composed this acrostic of his name:

I am a vile polluted lump of earth,                                                                                                               So I’ve continu’d ever since my birth;                                                                                                        Although Jehovah grace does daily give me,                                                                                               As sure as this monster Satan will deceive me,                                                                                          Come, therefore, Lord, from Satan’s arms relieve me.

Wash me in Thy blood, O Christ,                                                                                                                And grace divine impart,                                                                                                                                 Then search and try the corners of my heart,                                                                                             That I in all things may be fit to do                                                                                                            Service to Thee, and sing Thy praises too.

Isaac Watts had fallen into a bad habit of rhyming while talking, sometimes unconsciously doing so. Once his father scolded him for this habit, and he replied: “Oh, Father, do some pity take, And I will no more verses make.”

The hymns sang during the worship at church were very depressing to Isaac Watts. On his ay home from church one Sunday, he told his father, “The singing of God’s praise is the part of worship most closely related to heaven; but its performance among us is the worst on earth.” His father replied with the challenge, “Why don’t you give us something better, young man?” The challenge was accepted. For the next two years he wrote one new hymn every Sunday. Because of the departure from the traditional Psalms, he was considered radical.

Although he never married, Isaac Watts loved children. He wrote the first hymnal ever written exclusively for young people in 1715, at the age of thirty one, calling it “Divine Songs for Children”.

The last thirty years of his life he lived as an invalid in the home of a close friend, Sir Thomas Abney. He died in November, in 1748, after seventy four years of glorifying God and honouring Him with the talents he had been blessed with. In his lifetime he wrote over 600 hymns, three volumes of sermons, catechisms, twenty nine treatises of theology, and text books on logic. A monument was erected in Westminster to honour his life, one of the highest honours any englishman could have. 'ordinary instruments'

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