This hymn is over 138 years old, and is still being sung today in churches across our country. The simplicity of its melody and the beautiful imagery of its words make it a beloved favorite for many Christians.
Fanny Crosby was born in 1820. When she was just six weeks old, she caught a cold. Her eyes became very inflamed, and in a desperate measure to heal her, a country doctor put a mustard poultice on her eyes. She immediately lost her sight. Fanny was taken to Dr. Valentine Mott, a famous New York surgeon, but he could do nothing to help her. Dr. Mott pitied the poor girl and her widowed mother, and after they left his office, it is recorded that the doctor sorrowfully said “Poor little blind girl!” But Fanny Crosby turned her affliction into an asset. In her later years, she considered her blindness to be a blessing.
At 12 years old Fanny entered the New York Institute for the Blind. She was a very successful student, and from 1847 to 1858 she taught in the same school. She began writing poetry at 8 years old with this verse:
“Oh, what a happy child I am,
Although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.”
It was much later while Fanny was working at the Institute that she developed her talent for writing and turned it into something profitable. It is interesting to know that the male secretary of the Institute’s superintendent would write down Fanny’s poems as she dictated them. On more than one occasion, they were both reprimanded for “wasting the school’s time.” That male secretary was named Grover Cleveland. In later years, he would set aside important presidential affairs to take dictation for his White House Guest, Fanny Crosby.
Fanny became famous with such songs as “Rosalie the Prairie Flower” and “There’s Music in the Air”. But at the age of 44 she gave up secular song writing and devoted herself to religious compositions. Fanny has written the words to more than 8,000 gospel songs. Some of her more well known hymns are “Near The Cross”, “Rescue The Perishing”, “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior” and “Blessed Assurance”.
The story behind “Blessed Assurance” is simple but interesting.
One day Fanny was at the home of her friend Phoebe Palmer Knapp. In Phoebe’s home was the largest pipe organ ever to be installed in a private residence. Phoebe had a new melody that she had just composed, and she asked Fanny to listen to it. After playing it a few times, Phoebe asked Fanny, ‘What do you think the tune says?”
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”, Fanny answered, and then using her wide knowledge of scripture she continued with
“Oh what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”
The song was written in 1873, and remains a favorite among Christians everywhere. Fanny Crosby passed from this life in 1915 at the age of 95.
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.
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.
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.
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