Hymns of the Faith

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed?

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Penned by: Isaac Watts
Born: Ju­ly 17, 1674, South­amp­ton, Eng­land.
Died: No­vem­ber 25, 1748, Stoke New­ing­ton, Eng­land.
Buried: Bun­hill Fields Cem­etery, Lon­don, Eng­land. John Bun­yan, Jo­seph Hart, John Rip­pon, Will­iam Shrub­sole lie near­by.

Watts’ fa­ther was Non­con­form­ist im­pris­oned twice for his re­li­gious views. Isaac learned Greek, Latin, and He­brew un­der Mr. Pin­horn, Rec­tor of All Saints, and head­mas­ter of the Gram­mar School in South­amp­ton. Isaac’s taste for verse showed it­self in ear­ly child­hood, and his prom­ise caused a lo­cal doc­tor and other friends to of­fer him a un­i­ver­si­ty ed­u­ca­tion, as­sum­ing he would be or­dained in the Church of Eng­land. How­ev­er, Isaac de­clined and in­stead en­tered a Non­con­for­mist Acad­e­my at Stoke New­ing­ton in 1690, un­der the care of Thom­as Rowe, pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent cong­re­ga­tion at Gir­dlers’ Hall; Isaac joined this con­gre­ga­tion in 1693.

Watts left the Acad­e­my at age 20 and spent two years at home; it was dur­ing this per­i­od that he wrote the bulk of his Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs. They were sung from man­uscripts in the South­amp­ton Cha­pel, and pub­lished 1707-1709.

The next six years of his life were again spent at Stoke New­ing­ton, work­ing as tu­tor to the son of em­i­nent Pur­i­tan John Har­topp. The in­tense stu­dy of these years is re­flect­ed in the the­o­log­ic­al and phil­o­soph­ic­al ma­ter­i­al he sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished.

Watts preached his first ser­mon at age 24. In the next three years, he preached fre­quent­ly, and in 1702 was or­dained as pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent con­gre­ga­tion in Mark Lane. At that time he moved in­to the house of a Mr. Hollis in the Mi­nor­ies. His health be­gan to fail the next year, and Sam­u­el Price was ap­point­ed as his as­sist­ant in the min­is­try. In 1712, a fe­ver shat­tered his con­sti­tu­tion, and Price be­came co-pas­tor of the con­gre­ga­tion, which had moved to a new cha­pel in Bu­ry Street. It was at this time that Isaac be­came the guest of Sir Thom­as Ab­ney. He lived with Ab­ney (and lat­er Abney’s wi­dow) the rest of his life, main­ly at The­o­balds in Hert­ford­shire, then for 13 years at Stoke New­ing­ton.

In 1728, the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Ed­in­burgh award­ed Watts a Doc­tor of Di­vin­i­ty de­gree. Watts’ works in­clude:

  • Specula­tions on the Hu­man Na­ture of the Lo­gos
  • Horæ Lyr­i­cae, 1706-1709
  • Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs, 1707-9
  • The Di­vine and Mor­al Songs for the Use of Child­ren, 1715
  • The Psalms of Da­vid Im­i­tat­ed in the Lan­guage of the New Tes­ta­ment (Lon­don: J. Clark, 1719)
  • Sermons, 1721-1727
  • Reliquiae Ju­ve­niles: Mis­cel­lan­e­ous Thoughts in Prose and Verse, on Na­tur­al, Mor­al, and Di­vine Sub­jects (Lon­don: 1734)
  • Remnants of Time (Lon­don: 1736)
  • The Im­prove­ment of the Mind, 1741
  • Logic
  • The World to Come, 1745
  • Catechisms, Scrip­ture His­to­ry, 1732

(Information can be found at http://www.cyberhymnal.com)

Author’s note:
Isaac Watts wrote around 500 hymns to include the popular hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”.  Over the next weeks we will highlight some of Isaac Watt’s hymns.

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  1. Great song. The first verse has always been my favorite.

    • teeftastic
    • April 18th, 2007

    I just renamed your blog “hymnpedia.” I hope you like it.

    • Jonathan
    • April 18th, 2007

    Teef:

    Thank you for the kind renaming of my blog. I will post hymns all day long if that’s what it takes to get you to post on the blogosphere.

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