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Watts, Isaac

Watts, Isaac, 1674–1748, English clergyman and hymn writer, b. Southampton. He was one of the most eminent Dissenting divines of his day. As a pastor in London he was known for his sermons, but beginning in 1712 poor health caused him to live in semiretirement. His several hundred hymns embody a stern Calvinism assuaged with a gentleness and sympathy. The few hymns that are included in present-day hymnals are among the finest examples of English metrical hymnody. Those beginning Jesus shall reign where'er the sun, When I survey the wondrous cross, Joy to the world, and O God, our help in ages past, appeared in his Psalms of David Imitated (1719).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.