Isaac Watts was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, July 17, 1674. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas' pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary… Go to person page >
Death may dissolve my body now. I. Watts. [Assurance of Heaven.] First published in his Hymns and Sacred Songs, &c., 1707, Bk. i., No. 27, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and entitled, "Assurance of Heaven; or, A Saint prepared to die." Its use in its full form, except in America, is limited. In Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book., No. 857, "With heavenly weapons I have fought” is composed of stanzas ii.-iv., slightly alteredition The original hymn, with slight alterations in stanza v. only, was included in the draft of the Scottish Translations and Paraphrases, 1745, as No. xxxiii. In the authorized issue of the Translations and Paraphrases, 1781, a recast of the original was given as No. Iv., "My race is run, my warfare's o'er." The alterations were numerous (the first line dating from the Draft of 1751); and in the markings by the eldest daughter of W. Cameron (q.v.) are ascribed to him. It must be designated, Watts, 1707, Sacred Translations & Paraphrases, 1781, W. Cameron.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)