T h e P o e t ic Wo n de r o f I sa ac Wa tt s
throughout the remaining years of his life. In the final seven stanzas of the hymn, he explored the rest of the prophetic text: the singing of a new song, the elders around the throne, the incense, the prayers of the saints, the taking up of the scroll, the worthiness and glories of the Son, the making of the people of God into kings and priests, and heaven and the saints’ final reigning with God. Watts’ ability as a poet would improve, though his remarkable debut effort clearly showed the biblical and theological understanding and the poetic skill necessary to craft “new songs” worthy of the Lamb. When Watts came down the stairs a while later and presented his first hymn effort to his father, Watts Sr. was duly impressed and took a copy of it to the Independent chapel that evening. In 1690, in Southampton, England, the Above Bar congregation became the first to sing a hymn of Isaac Watts. It was enthusiastically received and Watts was encouraged to write more like it.29 The Watts revolution in hymnody had begun.
Stu de nt Sc holar Watts’ university education at Newington Academy would play an important role in preparing and equipping him for a life of doxology. There, sixteen-year-old Watts would encounter the soul-killing unbelief of the Age of Reason and be forced to grapple with reason and the Christian faith. Would cultured London ruin his soul? Or would he come 16