Watts, Isaac: July 17, 1674 - November 25, 1748
Recognised as the 'Father of English Hymnody', as he was the first English hymnwriter, and also one of the most prolific, credited with some 750 hymns.
Watts was brought up in the home of a committed Nonconformist - his father had been imprisoned twice for his views. At his local school he learnt Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and displayed a propensity for rhyme at home, driving his parents to the point of distraction on many occasions with his verse. Once, he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers.
- "A little mouse for want of stairs
- ran up a rope to say its prayers."
- "O father, do some pity take
- And I will no more verses make."
His education led him to the pastorate of a large church in London, and he also found himself in the position of helping trainee preachers, despite poor health.
He died in Stoke Newington, having left behind him a massive legacy, not only of hymns, but also of treatises, essays and the like.