The other night Suzie recorded the Lifetime movie Trip to Bountiful starring Cicely Tyson. Normally on principle I pass on watching any movies on the Lifetime network. But I have admired the acting of Tyson and could not recall watching the 1985 version of the movie which won an Oscar. So we sat down to watch the flick together.
Tyson played the role of an aging woman, Mrs. Watts, living with her son and daughter-in-law. She longed to return to her home town of Bountiful, Texas before her life was over. Throughout the movie, Tyson expresses her Christian faith. She reads her Bible, prays, talks of her church and ponders the Lord’s ways. Most prominently she fills her days by singing hymns.
One of those hymns was Blessed Assurance. After the movie, Suzie and I talked about that hymn. Knowing that our church sings more modern songs than hymns, Suzie asked me if I thought we might ever sing this hymn at church.
When I received an email from our pastor (Keith Baker) who leads our congregation in music, guess which hymn was listed to be sung this very Sunday? That’s right, Blessed Assurance.
Then another member of our church shared a music video on Facebook. It was of Alan Jackson singing the hymn. After all of this I figured that I should probably pay a little bit of attention to the hymn.
In 1873 Fanny Crosby was visiting a friend named Phoebe Knapp. Knapp played a new melody she had composed for Crosby on her piano and asked probably what it said. Crosby replied, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!”
Crosby was a prolific hymn writer who happened to be blind. Many of her hymns have echoed from the lips of Christians. As she penned the lyrics to fit Knapp’s melody, Crosby based her words on a verse from Hebrews.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
–Hebrews 10:22 ESV
As you read the lyrics below, notice the references to sight written by this blind hymn writer. Yet the line that stands out to me is the second, “Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.” We don’t often speak about a foretaste. However we do it when we anticipate a rather scrumptious meal. Think of a Thanksgiving feast being prepared in your presence. The aromas and the visions arouse the body in anticipation of sitting down with the family to eat. The anticipation can become so intense that a bite or two has to be sampled. Those sample bites are foretastes of the feast.
In a similar fashion, the Christian anticipates the glory that is to come in the presence of the Lord. Jesus is preparing a place for us. In the days of anticipating this glory, God grants us times of sample bites.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
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.
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.
Is there a particular line of the hymn that stands out for you?