Sunday, 15 February 2009
As Isaac Watts quietly pastored Mark Lane Chapel in London, the growing popularity of his hymns was causing a tempest. “Christian congregations have shut out divinely inspired Psalms,” one man complained, “and taken in Watts' flights of fancy.” The issue of singing hymns versus Psalms split churches, including the one in Bedford, England, once pastored by John Bunyan.
The controversy jumped the Atlantic. In May, 1789, Rev. Adam Rankin told the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, meeting in Philadelphia: “I have ridden horseback all the way from my home in Kentucky to ask this body to refuse the great and pernicious error of adopting the use of Isaac Watts' hymns in public worship in preference to the Psalms of David.”
Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674 – November 25, 1748) is recognized as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymn-writer, credited with some 750 hymns. Some of Watts' more well-known hymns are: "Joy to the World," "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," and "Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed."
Why do you think music creates such heated controversy within our churches?