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 >
Great Shepherd of Thine Israel. I. Watts. [Psalm lxxx.] Appeared in his Psalms of David, &c, 1719, in 12 stanzas of 4 lines, and entitled, "The Church's Prayer under Affliction; or, The Vineyard of God wasted." It is usually given in modern hymnals, both in Great Britain and America, in an abbreviated form, and sometimes as, "Great Leader of Thine Israel." In the Irvingite Hymns for the Use of the Churches, 1864, No. 68, stanzas v.-viii., slightly altered, are given as, "Lord, Thou hast planted with Thine hands." The opening lines of this version of Psalm lxxx.:—
”Great Shepherd of Thine Israel,
Who didst between the cherubs dwell,"
are from Sir J. Denham's version of the same Psalm, 1714.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)