This classic hymn was written by Phoebe Palmer Knapp (tune) and Fanny Crosby (words). Phoebe grew up in a Christian home and her mother, Phoebe Palmer, is now acknowledged as the "Mother of the Holiness Movement in the United States." She married Joseph Fairfield Knapp one of the founders of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and the couple lived lives of high society, often entertaining the most famous people of their day. The Knapps attended the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church and one of Phoebe's closest friends there was the blind hymnist, Fanny Crosby. One day in 1873 Fanny was visiting her friend as the Knapp home was having a large pipe organ installed. The organ was incomplete so, using the piano, Mrs. Knapp played a new melody she had just written called "Assurance." "What do you think the tune says?" asked Phoebe. "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine," answered Fanny Crosby. The little hymnist composed the words at once, and a great hymn was born.
The American Mrs. van Alystyne, better known by her maiden name of Fanny Crosby, was blind almost from birth. Nevertheless, she wrote over 8,000 hymns and songs, many of which became popular in the nineteenth century in connection with the Moody and Sankey missions. During her lifetime Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States. Some of her best known songs include "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Praise Him. Praise Him" and "To God Be The Glory." Crosby was never bitter about her disability. She once said, "when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior." When Fanny died, her tombstone carried the words, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine."
This version, which can be seen just to the right was recorded by the American CCM band Third Day for the 2003 various artists compilation album, Next Door Savior.
In February 1909, Thomas Edison's National Phonograph Company released a wax cylinder recording of this hymn, sung by the Edison Mixed Quartette. It's likely that Phoebe heard the original recording prior to her death making her one of the first hymnists to hear her own song on a phonograph.
In the 1950s the hymn took on a new lease of life as a result of the Billy Graham crusades around the world.