“Blessed Assurance” has always been a favorite hymn of mine, but over the last few years, it has become even more special. The reason is bittersweet.
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.
The song speaks of the “already but not yet” nature of the Christian faith. This first verse proclaims the joy of being in Christ and the hope of our future glory with him when he comes again and makes all things new.
The problem is the same one I talked about in my last blog post about “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” While Christ may be with us now through his Spirit, we’re not in the new heavens and the new earth yet. We still live with irritation and inconvenience, suffering and pain, longing and waiting. Sometimes we live with profound loss and devastation. That brings me to the reason why I love this hymn so much.
A few years ago, my little sister had a miscarriage. It was heartbreaking, especially since I wasn’t living in the same state and couldn’t be with her. I remembered that my older sister had also experienced a miscarriage, and a dear friend of mine had just been through her second of three. There is a special kind of pain they’ve experienced that frightens me and makes me want to question God’s goodness and sovereignty. But you know what my little sister said to me over the phone as she was processing her grief? “I just keep listening to the words of “Blessed Assurance”. I have to believe them and hold on to them.” I was struck deeply by her desire to turn to hope and the truth of God’s goodness in her time of loss, in spite of her loss, even because of her loss. I read through the words myself, and after a while, I decided to put together a rough a cappella recording of the song to send to her. It was a small way I could be with her as she mourned.
Since then, I have learned to love the song for the hope that it offers. Christ has not forgotten us and he is coming again. We will live with him in perfect rest and delight. Until then, we can wait and listen to the echoes of mercy and whispers of love he’s given us in his word, in his Spirit, in the beauty that persists in spite of sorrow.
While the reason for choosing this song for the Hymns Project may be bittersweet, the arrangement certainly is not. It’s the most celebratory of all the songs. Daniel likes to describe it as reminiscent of the scene in the movie Titanic where the main character Rose has wandered belowdecks and joins in the exuberant and joyful singing and dancing of the poor people. The song starts with a hint of that joy through layers of percussion, claps, strings, and acoustic guitar. The verses give the sense of waiting and expectation for the joy to return in each chorus. The final waiting happens at the instrumental section when everything but the guitar drops out. Each piece slowly layers back in for a final chorus of big, unrestrained celebration. That’s the goal of this arrangement: celebration of the hope that carries us through sorrow toward our final joy.
This is my story! This is my song!
Praising my Savior all the day long!
Our hope for the final version is to fill out the instrumentation more and add a chorus of other voices to carry the song to the end. To listen to the full, partially produced track, click here. To give to the project, visit our Indiegogo Fundraising Page.