Frances Jean “Fanny” Crosby (1820-1915), an only child from Brewster, New York, was one of the most prolific hymn writers the world has ever seen, composing over 8,000 hymns, along with several books and over 1,000 poems. Because publishers in her day were often reluctant to publish a woman’s work, Fanny used more than 200 masculine pseudonyms over the course of her career.
Blind from an early age, Crosby saw the world through her mind’s eye. She would begin to compose a hymn in her head, and once she had it written on her memory, she would then recite it to her personal stenographer who would write it down for her. She often worked on 5 or 6 hymns at a time, each floating in its own corner of her imagination until she felt ready to let it out.
In describing her hymn-writing process, Crosby once said: “It may seem a little old-fashioned, always to begin one’s work with prayer, but I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration.” The hymn “Blessed Assurance” reveals that she did indeed believe her Lord to be good.
“Blessed Assurance” is an exploration of the wonder of what it means to walk presently in what Peter calls a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3). For Fanny Crosby, one thing this “living hope” means is that we have a reason, right now, to celebrate with the confidence to draw near to God, trusting that He will never cast us away. This hymn celebrates the goodness of being at ease in a confident and perfect love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
“Blessed Assurance” in unashamedly happy. Crosby uses words like foretaste, praising, delight, happy, goodness, and, of course, blessed to give the song its buoyancy. In a cynical world, a hymn like this is refreshing. Crosby isn’t offering Christians a false sense of optimism. She is articulating the sure and eternal benefits of the work of Christ given to the believer. “Blessed Assurance” invites us to “draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22).
For the blind hymn writer from New York, passages like 1 John 4:7-19, Hebrews 10:19-23, and 1 Peter 1:3-9 were cause for celebration, which is what this hymn sets out to do. The Christian’s hope for happiness and peace is not wishful thinking. It is based on what we have already been promised because of the finished work of Christ—a blessed assurance that Jesus is ours.
Fanny Crosby, 1873
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. [Refrain]
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. [Refrain]
For an added layer of worship during reading plan, we’ve created a Spotify playlist for Hymns V! You can find the complete HRT Hymns V Playlist here, or listen to the first track on the player below. Enjoy!