Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the author of “I Sing the Almighty Power of God,” is known as the “Father of English Hymnody.” A precocious child, he studied Latin at the age of four. By the time he was 13, he had learned several languages, including Hebrew and Greek. As a teenager, he complained to his father about the dullness of the singing in the church services, to which his father replied, “Give us something better, young man.” Watts did precisely that, writing some 600 hymns during his lifetime.
In 1715 he wrote “I Sing the Almighty Power of God,” which was to be included in the first hymnal written especially for children. Well received, the hymnal was used for 150 years. Watts wrote, “I have endeavored to sink the language to the level of a child’s understanding.” He was obviously successful in doing so.
Watts’ respect for God’s greatness is reflected in the first two stanzas that give a picturesque account of creation. The hymn emphasizes that the goodness and presence of God can be experienced everywhere. The “wrath in hell beneath” is mentioned in stanza four, but this last stanza is often omitted.
Although this hymn was written specifically for children, it can be sung by Christians of all ages. Watts had no idea that it would be sung by adults around the world for centuries to come. God’s power, wisdom. and goodness call for much praise and singing! As the Psalmist says: Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:8).
That made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at his command,
And all the stars obey.
That filled the earth with food,
He formed the creatures with his word,
And then pronounced them good.
Lord, how thy wonders are displayed
Where’er I turn mine eye,
If I survey the ground I tread,
Or gaze upon the sky.
But makes thy glories known;
And clouds arise and tempests blow
By order from thy throne.
Creatures (as num’rous as they be)
Are subject to thy care:
There’s not a place where we can flee,
But God is present there.
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