And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Modern books on writing fiction and non-fiction that people will actually read stress that well-crafted sentences use verbs to convey action and emotion. They emphasize that relying on adjectives and adverbs to do all the heavy lifting results in bored readers.
These techniques would improve modern songwriting. But they wouldn’t do much to improve Watts. It seems he intuitively knew this. Sometimes his songs lack in other areas, especially as changes in pronunciation of words leave some rhymes not rhyming today. But they never lack for vigor. And in this passage that calls for vigor, his hymn “O, If My Soul Were Formed For Woe” delivers:
O, if my soul were formed for woe,
How would I vent my sighs!
Repentance should like rivers flow
From both my streaming eyes.
‘Twas for my sins my dearest Lord
Hung on the cursed tree,
And groaned away a dying life
For thee, my soul, for thee.
O, how I hate those lusts of mine
That crucified my God!
Those sins that pierced and nailed his flesh
Fast to the fatal wood!
Yes, my Redeemer, they shall die,
My heart has so decreed;
Nor will I spare the guilty things
That made my Savior bleed.
Whilst, with a melting, broken heart,
My murdered Lord I view,
I’ll raise revenge against my sins,
And slay the murd’rers too.
Strange is the faithful christian’s life (Galatians 5:16-24)
The Inward Warfare (Galatians 5:17) (1779)
John Newton | Popularized by Olney Hymns (1779)
What evil can such teachers do (Galatians 5:24)