Behold the "wretch whose lust and wine. I. Watts. [The Prodigal.] This paraphrase of St. Luke xv. 13, &c, was first published in his Hymns, &c, 1709, Book i., No. 123, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. The peculiarity of its opening line has made against its adoption in its original form in modern hymnals.
In the draft Scottish Translations and Paraphrases, 1745, it was given unaltered as No. xxv., save stanza vi., which was rewritten thus:—
"Bring forth the fairest Robe for him,
the joyful Father said;
To him each Mark of Grace be shown,
and every honour paid."
On the adoption of the hymn in the authorized issue of the Translations and Paraphrases, 1781, No. xl., it was given as “The wretched prodigal behold." This recast is composed as follows:— stanza i.-v. recast from original by Watts, stanza vi. new; stanza vii. from 1745; stanza viii. Watts; stanza ix. new. This recast, which may be found in full in modern editions of the Scottish Psalms, &c, has been in common use in the Church of Scotland for 100 years.
In Miss J. E. Leeson's Paraphrases and Hymns, &c, 1853, No. Ixx., two hymns on the above passage, St. Luke xv. 13-25, are given; the first, "Nigh unto death with famine pined," being by Miss Leeson; and the second, "The prodigal's returning steps." This last is thus composed: stanzas i., ii. Miss Leeson, based on the Scottish Paraphrases; iii., iv., Scottish Paraphrases altered; v., vi., Miss Leeson.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)