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 >
Give thanks to God the Sovereign Lord, [King] . I. Watts. [Ps. cxxxvi.] This C.M. version of Ps. 136 was published in his Psalms of David, &c., 1719, in 10 stanzas of 4 lines, with the following note:—
"In every stanza of this Psalm I have endeavoured to imitate the Chorus or Burden of the Song, For His mercy endureth for ever, and yet to maintain a perpetual variety."
The systematic way in which this end is accomplished is sketched out in the title which he gave to his Paraphrase. It reads: "God's Wonders of Creation, Providence, Redemption of Israel, and Salvation of his People." The form in which it is found in most modern collections, as in New Congregational Hymn Book, 1859, No. 226, and others, eliminates the reference to the "Redemption of Israel," thus reducing the hymn to 6 stanzas. The first line sometimes reads: "Give thanks to God, the Sovereign King."