Words by: Issac Watts (1674-1748)
Music/Chorus by: Ralph E. Hudson (1843-1901) & Hugh Wilson - 1800
Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748), is recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymnwriter, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages.
Born in Southampton, England,in 1674, Watts was brought up in the home of a committed Nonconformist — his father, also Isaac Watts, had been incarcerated twice for his controversial views. At King Edward VI School (where one of thehouses is now named "Watts" in his honour), he learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
He displayed a propensity for rhyme at home, driving his parents to the point of distraction on many occasions with his verse. Once, he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers.
A little mouse for want of stairs
ran up a rope to say its prayers.
Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried
O father, father, pity take
And I will no more verses make.
Watts found church services to be boring and the music dull and lifeless. After complaining about this, his dad responded, "Why don’t you give us something better, young man!" Well, a young Isaac Watts set out to do just that.
Watts decided to give his congregation “modernized” hymns that maintained the deep meaning of the Psalms they were based on, but had a fresh singability. The year was 1692, and the pen of Isaac Watts ended up bringing a huge change in the singing of the Christian church as he eventually wrote more than 600 hymns!
Hymns of Glorious Praise, Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1969.
Issac Watts (1674-1748) Ralph E. Hudson (1843-1901)
LYRICS: At The Cross
1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
2. Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.
4. But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.