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Updated 05/31/2013

 

Marching to Zion


Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts’ fa­ther was Non­con­form­ist im­pris­oned twice for his re­li­gious views. Isaac learned Greek, Latin, and He­brew un­der Mr. Pin­horn, Rec­tor of All Saints, and head­mas­ter of the Gram­mar School in South­amp­ton. Isaac’s taste for verse showed it­self in ear­ly child­hood, and his prom­ise caused a lo­cal doc­tor and other friends to of­fer him a un­i­ver­si­ty ed­u­ca­tion, as­sum­ing he would be or­dained in the Church of Eng­land. How­ev­er, Isaac de­clined and in­stead en­tered a Non­con­for­mist Acad­e­my at Stoke New­ing­ton in 1690, un­der the care of Thom­as Rowe, pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent cong­re­ga­tion at Gir­dlers’ Hall; Isaac joined this con­gre­ga­tion in 1693.

Watts left the Acad­e­my at age 20 and spent two years at home; it was dur­ing this per­i­od that he wrote the bulk of his Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs. They were sung from man­uscripts in the South­amp­ton Cha­pel, and pub­lished 1707-1709. The next six years of his life were again spent at Stoke New­ing­ton, work­ing as tu­tor to the son of em­i­nent Pur­i­tan John Har­topp. The in­tense stu­dy of these years is re­flect­ed in the the­o­log­ic­al and phil­o­soph­ic­al ma­ter­i­al he sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished.
 


Robert Lowry

Watts preached his first ser­mon at age 24. In the next three years, he preached fre­quent­ly, and in 1702 was or­dained as pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent con­gre­ga­tion in Mark Lane. At that time he moved in­to the house of a Mr. Hollis in the Mi­nor­ies. His health be­gan to fail the next year, and Sam­u­el Price was ap­point­ed as his as­sist­ant in the min­is­try. In 1712, a fe­ver shat­tered his con­sti­tu­tion, and Price be­came co-pas­tor of the con­gre­ga­tion, which had moved to a new cha­pel in Bu­ry Street. It was at this time that Isaac be­came the guest of Sir Thom­as Ab­ney. He lived with Ab­ney (and lat­er Abney’s wi­dow) the rest of his life, main­ly at The­o­balds in Hert­ford­shire, then for 13 years at Stoke New­ing­ton.

The tune was written by Robert Lowry.
 

Lyrics by Isaac Watts

 

Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
Join in a song with sweet accord
And thus surround the throne,
And thus surround the throne.

Refrain
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.

The sorrows of the mind
Be banished from the place;
Religion never was designed
Religion never was designed,
To make our pleasures less,
To make our pleasures less.

Refrain

Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But favorites of the heavenly King,
But favorites of the heavenly King
May speak their joys abroad,
May speak their joys abroad.

Refrain

The God that rules on high,
And thunders when He please,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
And manages the seas,
And manages the seas.

Refrain

This awful God is ours,
Our Father and our Love;
He will send down his heav’nly powers,
He will send down his heav’nly powers,
To carry us above,
To carry us above.

Refrain

There we shall see His face,
And never, never sin!
There, from the rivers of His grace,
There, from the rivers of His grace,
Drink endless pleasures in,
Drink endless pleasures in.

Refrain

Yea, and before we rise,
To that immortal state,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
Should constant joys create,
Should constant joys create.

Refrain

The men of grace have found,
Glory begun below.
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow,
From faith and hope may grow.

Refrain

The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Or walk the golden streets,
Or walk the golden streets.

Refrain

Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high,
To fairer worlds on high.

Refrain