Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was an English hymn writer, and most who recognize the name do so from having sung “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” or “Joy to the World.” He was a true nonconformist in his day (which in the 17th and 18th century meant he did not attend an Anglican church). In 1702 he was ordained as a pastor of an independent church. Watts wrote over 600 hymns in addition to sermons, books, poems, and treatises.

Isaac Watts learned Latin and Greek from the headmaster of the Southampton Grammar School. He went on to university, and was eventually awarded a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. He had a marvelous ability to put theology and philosophy to verse. Benjamin Franklin published Watts’ paraphrasing of the Psalms in 1729.

What few know now is that Isaac Watts wrote the classic textbook on Logic. It was used at Oxford University for over 100 years. It was used at Harvard and Yale as well. A copy of it is in our school office. Today we don’t necessarily think “logic” when we see a musician or poet – but in Isaac Watts poetry, theology, music, philosophy, and logic were all combined.

Parents often asked, “Just what is logic?” For this answer one can turn to the first page of Isaac Watts’ book and answer, “Logic is the art of using Reason well in our inquiries after truth, and the communication of it to others.”