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 >
O God, my Refuge, hear my cries. I. Watts. [Psalms lv.] Appeared in his Psalms of David, &c, 1719, p. 147 (misprinted 947), in 10 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Support for the afflicted and tempted Soul." In explanation of some portions of the Psalm which are not paraphased, the following note is added:—
"I have left out some whole Psalms, and several parts of others that tend to fill the mind with overwhelming sorrows, or sharp resentment; neither of which are so well suited to the spirit of the Gospel, and therefore the particular complaints of David against Achitophel here are entirely omitted".
This paraphrase is given in some collections in full, and in others in an abbreviated form. In the Leeds Hymn Book, 1853, and others, it begins with stanza viii. as "God shall preserve my soul from fear."
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)