A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Watts, Isaac

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Watts, Isaac (1674-1748). -- Poet and theologian, b. at Southampton, where his f. kept a school, and ed. at a Nonconformist academy at Stoke Newington, became minister of an Independent congregation in Mark Lane; but his health proving insufficient for his pastoral duties, he resigned, and gave himself chiefly to literary work, continuing to preach occasionally. For the last 36 years of his life he resided at Theobald's, the house of his friend, Sir Thomas Abney. Among his writings were various educational treatises, including those on Logic and The Improvement of the Mind, and some works on theological subjects. But his fame rests on his sacred poems and his hymns, which number over 500, and with much that is prosaic comprised "There is a Land of Pure Delight," "O God our Help in Ages Past," and "When I survey the Wondrous Cross," which has been called "the most majestic hymn in English speech." His Horæ Lyricæ was pub. in 1706, Hymns (1707), Divine Songs (for children) (1715), Metrical Psalms (1719). Some of his poems, such as his exquisite cradle song, "Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber" have a perfect beauty and tenderness.