Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer, preached his first sermon at Mark Lane in London on this day in 1698. He had been born in Southampton, England on July 17, 1674. He fell under conviction in 1688 and came to ardently and unreservedly profess Christ a year later.
His Puritan father was twice imprisoned for refusing to cease and desist sharing the Gospel message with his co-workers. Some of that pluck carried over to Isaac, who refused to take an all-expenses-paid education--which would have necessitated conforming himself to the anti-Puritan crown-mandated strictures of the Church of England. Nevertheless, he was able to work his way through the university and complete his education. Afterward, his gifts were so readily apparent that the little church at Mark Lane soon named him its assistant pastor.
Through the years of his fruitful ministry, he published a host of books, pamphlets, and sermons. But none were as influential as his collection of original congregational hymns, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, which included such classics as" Joy to the World" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." A few years later, he published a collection of versified psalms for congregational singing. These ultimately helped to transform hymnody and introduce an entirely new form of music for Biblical, Evangelical, and Confessional worship--a legacy that continues to enrich the modern church in our own day.