Creation (William Billings)
Billings included Creation in his final collection, The Continental Harmony (published in 1794). The words are by Isaac Watts: the first stanza is from Psalm 139 and the second from hymn 19, book 2, of his Hymns. In 2002, historian of science Edward B. Davis (co-editor of The Works of Robert Boyle) discovered that Watts based the second stanza on a meditation by the famous chemist Robert Boyle. In that text, from Occasional Reflections Upon Several Subjects (1665), Boyle reflected on an illness from which he had recovered, noting the great complexity of the human body and the wonder of how it all stays so well for so many years.
When I with pleasing wonder stand
And all my frame survey
Lord, 'tis thy work, I own thy hand
Thus built my humble clay
Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies if one be gone.
Strange that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long.
- Africa (William Billings), hymn tune with music score
- Chester (song), an American Revolutionary War anthem
- Edward B. Davis, "Robert Boyle as the Source of an Isaac Watts Text set for a William Billings Anthem," The Hymn: A Journal of Congregational Song, 53 (2002), 46-7