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The story behind the hymn: Blessed Assurance (27/10/20)

Many people will have sung this hymn over the years gaining encouragement from its words. Some people may have noticed that the words are attributed to Fanny Crosby and the tune to Mrs J.F.Knapp. Even fewer will have paused to wonder who these ladies were and how the hymn came to be written. Before recalling the simple but interesting incident which gave rise to it, I think it essential to reveal more about the remarkable Fanny Crosby…

She was born in 1820 and lived to be almost 95 years of age. During her life she wrote over 8,000 sacred songs and hymn, of which only a few have lasted to be still sung today. What made this achievement even more remarkable was that due to mis-treatment of eye inflammation at six weeks old she lived the rest of her life in blindness. However she turned her affliction into an asset and in later years looked upon her blindness as a blessing, showing that some handicaps are only limiting if they are perceived to be so. They can be used as opportunities to help others find freedom rather than restriction in their own particular situation. 

At the age of 12 she entered the New York Institute for the Blind, and she was so successful that she returned later as a teacher from 1847-1858. Whilst at the Institute she developed her writing ability and made it profitable. She wrote secular verse which was set to music by George F. Root, and sold in sheet music by the thousands. Interestingly whilst there the secretary helped write down the words of her songs as she dictated them. His name was Grover Cleveland who later became President of the United States. However when she was 44 she decided to devote her time and talent to sacred compositions only. Among those still known today are “Safe in the arms of Jesus”, and of course “Blessed Assurance”. 

Now back to how this came to be written. Whilst visiting her friend Mrs Joseph F. Knapp she was asked to listen to a melody she had just composed. She played it and then asked Fanny What do you think the tune says?” “Blessed Assurance,  Jesus is mine” was  the reply. Then drawing on her own storehouse of scriptural knowledge continued:

“Oh what a foretaste of glory divine, 
Heir of Salvation, Purchase of God,    
Born of His spirit, washed in His blood”.

In a short time this sacred song was written by the two women and the year was 1873. Over 100 years later it is still sung over the world confidently telling out the testimony:

“This is my story , this is my song,    
“Praising my Saviour all the day long”

Today there is another blind Christian musician whose own compositions, which she sings and plays, are giving encouragement , solace and pleasure to countless people. She is Marilyn Baker, who this year is celebrating 40 years of her ministry. Should you wish to hear her music and know more about her you can Google Christian musician Marilyn Baker. I personally have been greatly blessed through her music which she shows how deep and tender is our Father God’s love for all His children.

Listen to Blessed Assurance sung by Jeremy Riddle here:

Browse through Marilyn Baker’s YouTube videos here:

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