Oh Hymnal, Where Art Thou? Isaac Watts, I love your hair, but your words lay me out.

The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord

 

The heavens declare Thy glory, Lord;

In every star Thy wisdom shines;

But when our eyes behold Thy Word,

We read Thy name in fairer lines.

 

The rolling sun, the changing light,

And nights and days, Thy power confess;

But the blest Volume Thou hast writ

Reveals Thy justice and Thy grace.

 

Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise

Round the whole earth, and never stand;

So when Thy truth began its race,

It touched and glanced on every land.

 

Nor shall Thy spreading gospel rest

Till through the world Thy truth has run;

Till Christ has all the nations blest

That see the light, or feel the sun.  Amen.

 

From Psalm 19

Isaac Watts, 1719

Taken from The Hymnbook

 

1719? Really? That is almost 300 years ago. If one would search for the old hymnbooks, Isaac Watts lyrics would be found in every one.

Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) was an English hymnwriter, theologian and logician. A prolific and popular hymnwriter, he was recognized as the “Father of English Hymnody“, credited with some 650 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in use today, and have been translated into many languages.  Wikipedia.

The hymnbooks seem to be a thing of the past. You will still find them in some churches tucked underneath the pews. You will find a copy on my desk leaning against a few Bibles. The hymnal is where there is to be found modern poetic psalms. Honestly, what else could Christians be up to back then but to think, read, pray, meditate, and work the land?

Like David of old out in the field, the hymn writers were those who studied the biblical text and chewed on it and likely were under compulsion to reiterate God’s intent in creative ways. We are the better for it.

It gives me pause. I wonder if my meditative capabilities atrophy in direct proportion to the distractions I allow. I need not wonder about that rhetorical statement!

Psalm 1:2 says: But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

Go and read all of Psalm 1 and see what meditation on the law produces. I wouldn’t think that meditating on “the Law” would be that appealing in my limited understanding of the word “law”. Law equals boring. Nay, not so, says the psalmist.

Look at all of Psalm 19. You know, the Psalm that Isaac Watts reiterated so richly. (By the way, Psalm 19 is in the top five favorite psalms of mine.) Look at 19:7 to the end. Now the hymn makes so much more sense!

I confess it was my A.D.D. which aided me in reaching for the hymnbook. I reminisce way back to the little Baptist Church when I was a teen. “Stand with me please and turn in your hymnal to 259, The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord. We will sing all four stanzas.”

 

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