Each week I post a quote from saints from the Episcopal Calendar of Saints that week. They are to be meditative and mindful, playful and thought inducing. I hope they are helpful in your spiritual journeys.
Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748)
Isaac Watts is recognized as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymnwriter, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages.
Watts, unable to go to either Oxford or Cambridge due to his Non-conformity, went to the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690, and much of his life centred around that village, then a rural idyll but now part of Inner London. He held religious opinions that were more non-denominational or ecumenical than was at that time common for a non-conformist, having a greater interest in promoting education and scholarship, than preaching for any particular ministry.
Sacred music scholar Stephen Marini describes the ways in which Watts contributed to English hymnody. Notably, Watts led the way in the inclusion in worship of "original songs of Christian experience"; that is, new poetry.... Watts' introduction of extra-Biblical poetry opened up a new era of Protestant hymnody as other poets followed in his path.
Watts also introduced a new way of rendering the Psalms in verse for church services. Watts proposed that the metrical translations of the Psalms as sung by Protestant Christians should give them a specifically Christian perspective.