Friday, July 17, 2009

An Older Chapter in the "Worship Wars"

"I Sing the Mighty Power of God"
"O God, Our Help in Ages Past"
"Joy to the World, The Lord Has Come"
"Alas, And Did My Saviour Bleed"
"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"
"At the Cross"
"We're Marching to Zion"

What do all these wonderful old traditional hymns have in common? They are all written by an eighteenth century English pastor named Isaac Watts. This is but a very abbreviated list. If you have any familiarity with traditional hymnody, you would recognize dozens of his contributions to the world of Christian worship!

Though we think of these hymns as traditional, or tried and true, songs of the church, it might surprise you to know that Watts was a cutting-edge, and much maligned, creator of contemporary worship in his day and time. Here is a short biographical video produced by Mars Hill Church of Seattle, that gives you a sense of his role in the history of Christian music.


Rose said...

I remember seeing Isaac Watts' name at the bottom of so many hymn pages. The list you have here are some of the favorite hymns we've sung in our church for years.

I'll come back to watch the video later--have only a few minutes now--but I wanted to add something sort of unrelated. Another garden blogger I read occasionally has just reluctantly retired as a church organist. Her church is a small one, but they're adopting more contemporary music to attract more parishioners. The organ has been dismissed as too "stuffy." Isn't that sad?

Joyce said...

Rose, that is sad, because instruments are neutral objects- only as stuffy or unstuffy as the music that's played on them. Personally, I like it all, and can't figure why we can't just use it all, but people have pretty strong opinions about these things.

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in Isaac Watts you should check out this link:

Its a church out of Louisville, KY and part of the Acts 29 network like Mars Hill. They are doing an ambitious project that is inspired by Isaac Watts hymns, their first CD was just released last month. It is really unique and a great cd.

Thanks for an interesting blog. . .I like the mix of religion and environmental topics.