Blessed Assurance

A famous hymn composed by two women. On this day March 9, 1839, a beautiful baby girl was given the name Phoebe. She grew up to become a prominent social leader and the publisher of over 500 gospel songs. At the age of sixteen Phoebe became the wife of Joseph Fairchild Knapp, founder of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and a prominent Sunday School teacher. They attended Church in New York City. Phoebe was tall and slim with dark, curling hair and intense eyes. She dressed lavishly in elaborate gowns and diamond tiaras. The Knapp mansion was in Brooklyn and was virtually a palace. There Phoebe held a European-style salon, entertaining the most prominent people of her day. It seemed that every Republican President, Union general were all on the Knapp invitation list. Phoebe was a wealthy Christian who believed that Christianity should aid the poor and foster reform. Consequently, she became involved in many reform and political activities of the day. She gave large sums of money for the poor and worked diligently to enlist social and political leaders in her causes.

As a social activist, she said that her good works did not earn her a special place in heaven, but it was her love of God and her personal relationship with Jesus that gave her the assurance she was afforded. She knew her destiny was heaven and she desired to assure others that Jesus is the Way. Phoebe was intensely interested in music. The Knapps often hosted evening musicals, and in their music room they had one of the finest collections of musical instruments in the country. After her husband’s death, Phoebe lived at the Savoy hotel in New York City and had a pipe organ in her room. One of the best things that came out of her musical interest was a memorable hymn tune. Phoebe was a close, personal friend of Fanny Crosby, the blind, Christian hymn writer. One day Phoebe played a tune for Fanny that she had composed and asked, “What does this tune say?” Fanny replied, “Why, that says, ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine,'” and Fanny immediately wrote the lyrics to the tune created by Phoebe.

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