Isaac Watts

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Were I so tall to reach the pole,
Or grasp the ocean with my span,
I must be measured by my soul;
The mind's the standard of the man.

Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 - 25 November 1748) was an English theologian, logician, and a prolific and popular hymnwriter. Known as the "Father of English Hymnody" he is credited with some 750 hymns, many of which remain in active use today.

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  • Were I so tall to reach the pole,
    Or grasp the ocean with my span,
    I must be measured by my soul;
    The mind's the standard of the man.
    • "False Greatness" in Horae Lyricae Book II (1706). Compare: "I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge of the man", Seneca, On a Happy Life (L'Estrange's Abstract), chap. i; "It is the mind that makes the man, and our vigour is in our immortal soul", Ovid, Metamorphoses, xiii.
  • Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear
    My voice ascending high.
    • Psalm 5.
  • Our God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Our shelter from the stormy blast,
    And our eternal home.
    • Psalm 90 "Our God, our help in ages past" st. 1 (1719).
  • A thousand ages in Thy sight
    Are like an evening gone;
    Short as the watch that ends the night
    Before the rising sun.
    • Psalm 90 st. 4.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
  • Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
    Bears all its sons away;
    They fly forgotten, as a dream
    Dies at the opening day.
    • Psalm 90 st. 5.
  • From all who dwell below the skies
    Let the Creator's praise arise;
    Let the Redeemer's name be sung
    Through every land, by every tongue.
    • Psalm 117.
  • Maintain a constant watch at all times against a dogmatical spirit: fix not your assent to any proposition in a firm and unalterable manner, till you have some firm and unalterable ground for it, and till you have arrived at some clear and sure evidence.
    • Improvement of the Mind (1741) Ch. I, General Rules for the Improvement of Knowlege, Rule X "Avoid a dogmatical spirit"
  • Fly, like a youthful hart or roe,
    Over the hills where spices grow.
    • Hymn 79, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book I.
  • And while the lamp holds out to burn,
    The vilest sinner may return.
    • Hymn 88, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book I.
  • Strange that a harp of thousand strings
    Should keep in tune so long!
    • Hymn 19, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II.
  • Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound.
    • Hymn 63, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II.
  • The tall, the wise, the reverend head
    Must lie as low as ours.
    • Hymn 63, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II.
  • When I can read my title clear
    To mansions in the skies,
    I'll bid farewell to every fear,
    And wipe my weeping eyes.
    • Hymn 65 Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II.
  • There is a land of pure delight,
    Where saints immortal reign;
    Infinite day excludes the night,
    And pleasures banish pain.
    • Hymn 66, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II.
  • So, when a raging fever burns,
    We shift from side to side by turns;
    And 't is a poor relief we gain
    To change the place, but keep the pain.
    • Hymn 146, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II.
  • 'Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain,
    "You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again."
    • "The Sluggard".
  • To God the Father, God the Son,
    And God the Spirit, Three in One,
    Be honour, praise, and glory given
    By all on earth, and all in heaven.
    • Doxology.

Psalm 98 "Joy to the World!" (1719)

  • Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
    Let earth receive her King.
    Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
    And heav'n and nature sing,

    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
    • Stanza 1.
  • Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
    Let men their songs employ;
    While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
    Repeat the sounding joy.
    • Stanza 2.
  • No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make His blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found.
    • Stanza 3.
  • He rules the world with truth and grace,
    And makes the nations prove
    The glories of His righteousness,
    And wonders of His love
    ,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders, wonders, of His love.
    • Stanza 4.

Divine Songs Attempted in the Easy Language of Children (1715)

  • There's not a place where we can flee,
    But God is present there.
    • Song 2: "Praise for Creation and Providence".
  • Whene'er I take my walks abroad,
    How many poor I see!
    What shall I render to my God
    For all his gifts to me?
    • Song 4.
  • Lord, I ascribe it to thy grace,
    And not to chance as others do,
    That I was born of Christian race,
    And not a Heathen, or a Jew.
    • Song 6: "Praise for the Gospel".
  • Just as a tree cut down, that fell
    To north, or southward, there it lies:
    So man departs to heaven or hell,
    Fix'd in the state wherein he dies.
    • Song 10: "Solemn Thoughts of God and Death".
  • A flower, when offered in the bud,
    Is no vain sacrifice.
    • Song 12.
  • A flower may fade before 'tis noon,
    And I this day may lose my breath.
    • Song 13: "The Danger of Delay".
  • One stroke of his almighty rod
    Shall send young sinners quick to hell.
    • Song 13: "The Danger of Delay".
  • And he that does one fault at first
    And lies to hide it, makes it two.
    • Song 15. Compare: "Dare to be true: nothing can need a lie; A fault which needs it most, grows two thereby", George Herbert, The Church Porch.
  • ...but every lyar
    Must have his portion in the lake
    That burns with brimstone and with fire.
    • Song 15: "Against Lying".
  • Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
    For God hath made them so;
    Let bears and lions growl and fight,
    For 't is their nature too.
    • Song 16: "Against Quarrelling and Fighting".
  • But, children, you should never let
    Such angry passions rise;
    Your little hands were never made
    To tear each other's eyes.
    • Song 16: "Against Quarrelling and Fighting".
  • Birds in their little nests agree;
    And 'tis a shameful sight,
    When children of one family
    Fall out, and chide, and fight.
    • Song 17: "Love between Brothers and Sisters".
Let me be dressed fine as I will,
Flies, worms, and flowers, exceed me still.
  • The wise will make their anger cool
    At least before 'tis night
    • Song 17: "Love between Brothers and Sisters".
  • In works of labour or of skill
    I would be busy too:
    For Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do.
    • Song 20: "Against Idleness and Mischief".
  • In books, or work, or healthful play.
    • Song 20: "Against Idleness and Mischief".
  • Let me be dressed fine as I will,
    Flies, worms, and flowers, exceed me still.
    • Song 22: "Against Pride in Clothes".
  • I have been there, and still would go;
    'T is like a little heaven below.
    • Song 28.
  • Hush! my dear, lie still and slumber,
    Holy angels guard thy bed!
    Heavenly blessings without number
    Gently falling on thy head.
    • Song 35: "A Cradle Hymn".

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