The Story Behind Blessed Assurance
Francis Jane Crosby was born into a family of strong Puritan ancestry in New York on March 24, 1820. As a baby, she had an eye infection which a quack doctor treated by placing hot poultices on her red and inflamed eyelids. The infection did clear up, but scars formed on the eyes, and the baby girl became blind for life. A few months later, Fanny's dad became ill and died. Mercy Crosby, widowed at 21, hired herself out as a maid while Grandmother Eunice Crosby took care of little Fanny.
Grandmother took the education of her little granddaughter on herself and became the girl's eyes, vividly describing the physical world. Grandmother's careful teaching helped develop Fanny's descriptive abilities. But Grandmother also nurtured Fanny's spirit. She read and carefully explained the Bible to her, and she always emphasized the importance of prayer. When Fanny became depressed because she couldn't learn as other children did, Grandmother taught her to pray to God for knowledge.
In 1834 Fanny learned of the New York Institute for the Blind and knew this was the answer to her prayer for an education. She entered the school when she was twelve and went on to teach there for twenty-three years. She became somewhat of a celebrity at the school and was called upon to write poems for almost every conceivable occasion.
On March 5, 1858, Fanny married Alexander van Alstine, a former pupil at the Institute. He was a musician who was considered one of the finest organists in the New York area.
One evening, Fanny's friend and composer Phoebe Palmer Knapp was visiting and played a tune on the piano, asking Fanny what it sounded like. Fanny responded "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!" Phoebe and Fanny then continued to sing the melody and write the lyrics together.
Popular Hymn Lyrics with Story and Meaning
Day by Day and With Each Passing Moment
Jesus Loves Me
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Nearer My God to Thee
Abide with Me
His Eye is On the Sparrow
Be Thou My Vision
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty