English pastor, theologian, educator, reformer, and hymn writer, Isaac Watts (1674-1748), published his first collection of groundbreaking Puritan and Reformed hymns on this day in 1707. Born in Southampton, he was educated at an academy for Dissenters at Stoke Newington—now part of London. After some years as a tutor, preacher, and assistant pastor, he became minister of a Dissenting church in London in 1702.
Watts's many books on theological subjects were very influential, including his Scripture History which was first published in 1732. Even better known, however, were his Horae Lyricae, a collection of Puritan poems, and his beloved hymn texts.
During his long and storied ministry, he published two hymn collections, Hymns and The Psalms of David. Among his hymns still sung are “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” I think my favorite though, is “Jesus Shall Reign,” from Psalm 72:
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
does its successive journeys run;
his kingdom spread from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.
To Jesus endless prayer be made,
and endless praises crown his head;
his name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.
People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song;
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.
Blessings abound where'er he reigns;
all prisoners leap and loose their chains;
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.
Let every creature rise and bring
honors peculiar to our King;
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen!