Isaac Watts

(1674—1748) Independent minister and writer

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became a minister, but was forced into early retirement by ill health. He published four collections of verse, Horae Lyricae (1706), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707), Divine Songs for the Use of Children (1715), and The Psalms of David Imitated (1719). He is chiefly remembered for his hymns, which include ‘O God, our help in ages past’ and ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’, and for his songs for children (‘How doth the little busy bee’), some of which foreshadow those of Blake. But he was also the author of Pindaric odes, blank verse, and of daring technical experiments such as his alarming ‘The Day of Judgement’ (1706), in English Sapphics. He was included in The Lives of the English Poets at Johnson's own suggestion.

Subjects: Literature.

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