A young boy complains to his father that most of the church hymns are boring to him because they are so far behind the times. His father becomes angry and states that "the hymns are good enough for your grandfather and me, and they will serve you just as well." But the teenager says that not only are the tunes boring, but the words are meaningless ... the songs are just too old fashioned. Putting an end to the discussion, his father says to him, "Well, if you think you can write better hymns, then why don't you?" The son says that he will. He goes to his room and writes his first hymn.
The year was 1690, the teenager was Isaac Watts, and the hymn was "Behold the Glories of the Lamb." During the next few years he wrote other songs. "We're marching to Zion", "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", and "Joy to the World" are among the almost 350 hymns he created. The lyrics were his own but sometimes the melodies were similar in origin to Luther's ... seized from the streets or from popular theatre.
Larry Norman, liner Notes to In Another Land