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 >
Dread Sovereign, let my evening song. I. Watts. [Evening.] Appeared in the first edition of his Hymns & Sacred Songs, 1707, Bk. ii., No. 7, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "An Evening Song." The opening stanza, when compared with J. Mason's "Song of Praise for the Evening" (Songs of Praise, 1683, No. xi.), is evidently suggested by Mason's stanza i. The two are:—
"Dread Sovereign, let my evening song
Like holy incense rise:
Assist the offerings of my tongue
To reach the lofty skies."
"Now from the altar of my heart
Let incense flames arise;
Assist me, Lord, to offer up
Mine evening sacrifice."
The hymn in its original form is in common use both in Great Britain and America. There are also altered texts in common use, as (1) "Blest Saviour, let our evening song"; this is in Common Praise , 1879; and (2) "0 Holy Father, let my song," in Baptist Psalms & Hymns, 1858-80, &c.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
MARTYRDOM was originally an eighteenth-century Scottish folk melody used for the ballad "Helen of Kirkconnel." Hugh Wilson (b. Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, c. 1766; d. Duntocher, Scotland, 1824) adapted MARTYRDOM into a hymn tune in duple meter around 1800. A triple-meter version of the tune was fir…