Scripture Reading: Genesis 28:10-17, Psalm 71:14-16, Psalm 146:1-2, John 6:47-51, Acts 2:32-36, 2 Timothy 1:11-12, 1 John 5:10-13
Fanny Crosby was born in the slums of Manhattan. Her family was so poor that when baby Fanny got a simple eye infection at six weeks old, they were unable to help her, resulting in the loss of her vision before she was even weaned. Still, she grew to be one of the most prolific hymn writers in America. Over the course of her 94 years, Fanny Crosby wrote well over 8,000 gospel songs. Given that she used more than 200 pen names, there may well be many more.
Fanny often composed lyrics to music written by friends. She just had a knack for it. But Fanny had standards, and wouldn’t write lyrics to just any old tune. Sometimes musicians would bring music from a saloon song and propose that she sanctify the lyrics. At this proposition, Fanny crossed her dignified ankles and declared, “Oh my, no.” She maintained that the Church must never sing its songs to the melodies of the world.
One of her dearest musician friends was Phoebe Knapp. And as poor as Fanny was, Phoebe was rich. She was born into the Brooklyn elite, and enjoyed the advantages of great wealth. These two very different women attended the same church and struck up a dear friendship. You could say Fanny’s favorite frolic was the philharmonics at Phoebe’s fancy flat. (But be careful.)
One afternoon, Phoebe sat at the piano and played a song of her own devising while Fanny listened quietly. As the story goes, when the music ended, Fanny clapped her hands and declared, “Why, that says ‘Blessed Assurance!'” And so the hymn was born.
Our assurance in Christ is indeed blessed. He promises us simply and truly that “Anyone who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47).
by Fanny Crosby
Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine!
Oh, 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.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Crosby, Fanny. Fanny J. Crosby, An Autobiography: the life of the beloved hymn writer, told in her own words. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2015.
Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings my Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2012.
Petersen, Randy. Be Still, My Soul: The Inspiring Stories Behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014.