“A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody: Or, An Inquiry how the Psalms of David ought to be translated into Christian Songs, and how lawful and necessary it is to compose other Hymns according to the clearer Revelations of the Gospel, for the Use of the Christian Church.”
By the way, Sojourn Music out of KY has produced two solid collections of contemporary treatments of Isaac Watts hymns that I highly recommend :
From the Sojourn site:
“In the midst of the Reformation in England, Isaac Watts recognized that people needed to see the gospel in the psalms and hymns of the church, and they needed to sing them in language and metaphors that they understood. In this, he became not only the father of the modern hymn, but the pace-setter for contextualizing the gospel for the people of God.
As musicians, pastors and songwriters, our desire was to explore the hundreds of hymns that Watts wrote during his lifetime, to learn from the incredible range and depth of his lyrics, and to re-envision those songs with modern language and melodies.
The songs are re-imaginings and adaptations of the hymns of Isaac Watts, the ‘Father Of English Hymnody.’ Watts was an extraordinary pastor and poet. These songs, these snapshots of the gospel, can profoundly help us to see Jesus as more beautiful and more believable.”
Click either album cover to hear samples or purchase.