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I Sing the Mighty Power of God

posted Jul 9, 2011, 4:59 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 31, 2014, 7:37 PM ]
I Sing the Mighty Power of God, with text by Isaac Watts, was originally included in his 1715 hymnal Divine and Moral Songs for Children. Though this non-conformist theologian and logician lived three centuries ago in what is now part of London, many of the more than 600 texts he wrote are still sung today.
The “Father of English Hymns” recognized people should sing songs of scripture, but that they needed language and metaphors they understood, becoming the pace-setter for writing new poetry intended for “original songs of Christian experience”. Among some of his most popular texts are: Joy to the World from Psalm 98; O God Our Help in Ages Past, based on Psalm 90; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross from St. Paul’s admonition in Galatians 6:14; and today’s text based on Genesis 1, Psalms 19, 95 and 104, and Jeremiah 10:12-13.

His hymns that the new immigrants brought over from the old world were welcomed by the early colonists; and by the American Revolution hymnals were mostly filled with his songs. During that war, the colonists ran out of “wad” for their muskets (the paper that made sure the ball and gunpowder stayed put.) So at the Battle of Springfield in 1780, Pastor James Caldwell of Elizabethtown, NJ ran into a church and proceeded to tear pages out of the hymnals, distributing them to the soldiers for wadding as he yelled "give 'em Watts, boys!" And this eventually grew into the phrase "to give ‘em 'watt' for…"