Isaac Watts was one of the great hymn writers of the church. This hymn, written in 1709, was published in “Gadsby’s Hymns, C H Spurgeon’s “Our Own Hymn-Book” and “The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts”. Watts apparently didn’t title his hymns, but the subtitle above was in both hymnals. The Scripture basis for the text is John 1:1, 3 and 14, Colossians 1:16 and 1 Timothy 3:16.
Ere the blue heavens were stretch’d abroad,
From everlasting was the Word:
With God He was: the Word was God,
And must divinely be adored.
By His own power were all things made;
By Him supported all things stand;
He is the whole creation’s head,
And angels fly at His command.
Ere sin was born, or Satan fell,
He led the host of morning stars;
(Thy generation who can tell,
Or count the number of Thy years?)
But lo! He leaves those heavenly forms,
The Word descends and dwells in clay,
That He may hold converse with worms,
Dress’d in such feeble flesh as they.
Mortals with joy beheld His face.
Th’ eternal Father’s only Son;
How full of truth! How full of grace!
When through His eyes the Godhead shone!
Archangels* leave their high abode
To learn new mysteries here, and tell
The love of our descending God,
The glories of Immanuel.
*Gadsby uses “Bless’d angels” while the other two use Archangels.
You can sing this to many different tunes, such as “Old Hundredth” (the Doxology) , “Jesus Shall Reign”, “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee” or even “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”.