Divine and Moral Songs for Children became a ubiquitous children’s book
throughout England for nearly two hundred years. By the mid-19th century, the book
existed in over a thousand editions. So well-known were some of the children’s poems
that Lewis Carroll parodied them in Alice in Wonderland and Charles Dickens
referenced them in David Copperfield. Modern readers (or singers), however,
remember Watts’ songbook not so much for its rhymes for children, but for its hymns.
For many Christian families throughout the English-speaking world, Isaac Watts—author
of “Joy to the World” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”—remains a household