By Crystal Caviness
In a New York City home in 1873, one friend played a few bars of music on the piano for another friend and then asked, “What does that melody say to you?”
The story goes that the second friend immediately replied, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!”
Almost effortlessly and within a few minutes, Fanny Crosby had written the verses and refrain to accompany the music written by Phoebe Palmer Knapp. The beloved hymn, aptly titled, “Blessed Assurance,” (no. 369 in the United Methodist Hymnal), celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2023.
The musical collaboration was among the first between Crosby, a woman who was blind and became known as one of the most prolific hymn writers in history, and Knapp, a successful composer and the daughter of famed Methodist revivalist Phoebe Palmer. Crosby and Knapp ran in the same musical circles in New York, as well as worshipping together at Old John Street Methodist Episcopal Church.