THIS is a bit shorter than my usual Midweek Hymn, partly because I have already told the story of the the writer, and partly because with this emergency there seem to be a lot of things to arrange. In any case, I thought we could all do with some Blessed Assurance.
The words were written by the incredibly industrious Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), about whom I wrote here. Despite being blind she was responsible for around 9,000 hymns, sometimes writing several a day.
The story goes that in 1873 either Miss Crosby (she was married, but kept her maiden name for her writing) was visiting her friend Phoebe Knapp, or the other way round. Mrs Knapp played on the piano a melody she had just composed and asked: ‘What do you think the tune says?’ Crosby replied: ‘Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine’, and proceeded to recite the entire first stanza of the hymn.
The two knew each other because both attended the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City. Mrs Knapp composed at least 500 hymn tunes, this one, called Assurance, being by far the best known.
Here are the words:
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 Saviour, all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Saviour all the day long.
2 Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending, bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love. [Refrain]
3 Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love. [Refrain]
The hymn appeared in the July 1873 issue of Palmer’s Guide to Holiness and Revival Miscellany and now of course is a worldwide favourite.
Here is a classic performance by Tennessee Ernie Ford on his 1956 album Hymns.
This is the Gracias Choir of Seoul.
Here is Aretha Franklin.
Finally, a spectacular performance by the Salvation Army Band at the 2019 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.