The hymn “Blessed Assurance” was written by Fanny J. Crosby and composed by Phoebe P. Knapp. The scripture reference is found in Hebrews 10: 22 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
In the latter half of the 19th century, gospel music was an important form of Christian hymnody. One of the hymn writers, Fanny J. Crosby, truly captured the spirit of the American gospel song movement at that time.
Fanny Crosby: Gifted Blind Hymn Writer
Frances Jane Crosby (March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915), known as Fanny Crosby, was an American lyricist and Methodist, best known for writing Protestant Christian hymns. Despite her blindness which she acquired shortly after birth, she was one of the most prolific hymn writers in history, having written over 8,000 hymns. One of the best known women in the US, Crosby was also known for preaching and public speaking.
It is estimated that Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8,000 gospel song texts in her lifetime, with her hymns loved and still sung in Protestant churches today. Her many favorites have been an important part of evangelical worship for generation. The themes for her hymns were often suggested by visiting ministers who wished to have a new song on a particular subject.
It is amazing that especially for a blind person, someone could write on this variety of spiritual truths and experiences with such proliferation. For a considerable period during her life, while under contract to a music publisher, she wrote three new hymns each week. She used over 200 pen names. Many of her original texts are still being uncovered and perhaps might be found and published in the future.
Engraved on Crosby’s tombstone at Bridgeport, Connecticut, are these significant words taken from the remarks of Jesus to Mary, the sister of Lazarus, after she had anointed Him with costly perfume, “She hath done what she could.” So, too, did Fanny Crosby!
Phoebe Knapp: Composer of “Blessed Assurance”
At other times musician friends would first compose the music and then ask Fanny Crosby for the words. Such was the case for this hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” The music was composed by Mrs. Joseph Knapp, an amateur musician, wife of the founder of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and a close friend of Fanny Crosby. One day Mrs. Phoebe Knapp played this melody for the blind poetess and asked, “What does this tune say?” Fanny simply responded immediately, “Why, that says: ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.'” Knapp published more than 500 gospel songs herself, including the popular gospel classic, “Open the Gates of the Temple.”
“Blessed Assurance” was sung in the Academy award winning movies Places in the Heart (1984) and Trip to Bountiful (1985).
First Stanza of the Hymn
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”
“This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.”
Other Hymns by Fanny J. Crosby
- “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”
- “Jesus is Tenderly Calling You Home”
- “Rescue the Perishing”
- “Saved By Grace”
- “To God Be the Glory”
Lyrics and Music
101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, Michigan, 1985
Holy Bible, New International Version, Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2001