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3:16pm Wednesday 20th June 2007 in Hampshire Heritage
Every four hours throughout the day the bells of Southampton's Civic Centre clock ring out Isaac Watt's hymn, Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past.
The famous writer of hymns was the eldest of nine children and born in Southampton on July 17,1674.
Today he is still remembered in Southampton as one of the city's parks, which contains a sculpture of him, is named after the composer, poet, author and theologian At school he learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew and displayed a skill for writing rhyme at home, driving his parents to the point of distraction on many occasions with his verse. Once, when he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers he said: "A little mouse for want of stairs, ran up a rope to say its prayers.' On another occasion Isaac was about to be punished by his father: "O father, do some pity take, And I will no more verses make.
He went to become a prolific hymn writer and has been credited with composing more than 600 songs.
A famous story about Isaac Watts tells how it all began. The teenage Isaac complained bitterly to his father about the dreary Psalms sung in church, he said the tunes were tiresome and the words meaningless. His father encouraged him to see what he could do "to mend the matter". Isaac went to his room and wrote his first hymn.
The next Sunday that first hymn, Behold the Glories of the Lamb was sung in the Congregational chapel to which the Watts family belonged in Southampton. Isaac was about 19 years old at the time.
In 1739, at age 65, Isaac suffered a stroke that left him able to speak but unable to write so a secretary was provided for his dictated poems and hymns.
Name: Isaac Watts Occupation: First prolific and popular English hymn writer Date of birth: July 17, 1674 DIED: November 25, 1748 Local link: Born in Southampton