Recently heard this, and was trying to figure out what it means. It's by Isaac Watts and, I believe, from his book https://www.amazon.com/Arrangement-Psalms-Hymns-Spiritual-Songs/dp/024343913X

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.

2 Answers 2


Watts published this hymn under the subject:

Our frail Bodies, and God our Preserver

Isaac Watts (1719). The Psalms of David, book II, hymn XIX.

The stanza in the question consists of two metaphors. First, the human body is compared to a clockwork mechanism, containing many springs, all of which are vital for its operation. Second, the human body is compared to a harp of many strings, all of which must be tuned correctly for the instrument to play in harmony.

Both metaphors portray the human body as a delicate mechanism that requires constant attention, the implication being that God is our maintenance operator:

But ’tis our God supports our frame,
    The God that built us first:
Salvation to th’ Almighty name
    That reared us from the dust.


The stanza is based on a passage from a book by the scientist Robert Boyle. See Edward B. Davis, “Robert Boyle as the Source of an Isaac Watts Text Set for a William Billings Anthem,” The Hymn 53, no. 1 (January 2002): 46-47. The Hymn (journal of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada) is available in Hathitrust.

  • 2
    Hi. Welcome to Literature Stack Exchange and thank you for posting this additional information. You could significantly improve your answer by adding a few details about the passage from Boyle's work that you are referring to. Based on the current state of your answer, it is impossible for readers to figure out what the exact relationship is between Boyle's text and Watts's hymn.
    – Tsundoku
    Jun 22, 2020 at 17:03

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