“Blessed Assurance” is a well-known Christian hymn. Fanny J. Crosby, famed blind hymn writer wrote the lyrics in 1873 to the music written by Phoebe Palmer Knapp, (both were members of the St. John’s Methodist Church in New York City).
It may have been blind Miss Crosby’s example that encouraged Phoebe Palmer Knapp (1839-1908) to write the tunes for more than 500 hymns.
As the story goes, Fanny was visiting her friend Phoebe at her family’s home in Brooklyn when a large pipe organ was being installed. So, Phoebe played a new melody she had just composed on a piano. When Knapp asked Crosby, “What do you think the tune says?”, Crosby replied, “Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine.”
The hymn appeared in the July 1873 issue of Palmer’s Guide to Holiness and Revival Miscellany, a magazine printed by Phoebe’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Palmer, of 14 Bible House, New York City. It appeared on page 36 (the last page) with complete text and piano score, and indicated it had been copyrighted by Crosby that year. It is not certain that this was the first printing of the hymn, but it certainly helped popularize one of the most beloved hymns of all time.
As to Fanny’s inspiration for the lyrics, it is believed that she may have derived them from Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…;” or, Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Well, it just so happens that the Arts Director at our church is named Daniel C. Palmer. Daniel is a graphic artist, songwriter, singer, keyboardist, guitarist originally from Texas–whether there is an ancestral connection to Phoebe Palmer Knapp, I’m not sure). But, our video rendition over 140 years later of Fanny and Phoebe’s Blessed Assurance song below (recorded at our church on August 3, 2014), is my way of sharing my love for this ever-growing biblical community. Here, we believe you will see we are more than ministries and sermons–we are devoted to doing life together through our love of Jesus Christ and striving to reach unchurched people to help them grow into fully devoted followers. Daniel Palmer is lead keyboardist and backup singer, Dana Robinson is lead vocalist; and, Chesapeake Church’s very own Reverend Robert Hahn, plays lead guitar on this occasion in Huntingtown, MD.
I hope you enjoy this old-time hymn that I recorded from my camera phone from our auditorium that is now being renovated to make room for others to join us. If you’re in our neighborhood, I hope you will check us out.