Posted in Music

Blessed Assurance: Then and Now and Forevermore

  • March 5, 2019

On Sunday, we sang this old familiar hymn with a bit of a twist with lyrics adapted to fit the themes that the Youth so eloquently brought forth to the congregation as they led worship together.

Blessed assurance, God’s love is mine. Oh what a free gift, from the divine. Known for who I am, called to be me Born of the Spirit, loved tenderly.

This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long.

When I feel doubtful, alone, or afraid
Longing for comfort from friends who have stayed Close by my side and – who see the real me Blessed child of God, I – am thankful and free.

This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long.

Filled with God’s goodness, all is at rest
Mind, body, and soul are peaceful and blessed. Jesus walks with me, holding my hand
Called to share God’s love, throughout the land.

This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long.

*We also discovered an amazing history of this beloved hymn. Read on!!

Fanny Crosby: Legendary Methodist Hymn Writer (1820-1915)

“Blessed Assurance” is one of the most beloved songs in the United Methodist Hymnal. The person who composed this classic, Fanny Crosby is credited with writing 8000 hymns in her lifetime–despite losing her sight six weeks after birth in 1820. This blind, musical visionary was a lifelong Methodist who began composing hymns at age six. From the age of 15, Crosby attended the New York Institute for the Blind and later joined the faculty and met her husband there. Alexander Van Alstyne, blind himself, was supportive. He often transcribed his wife’s poems since Crosby could not write and composed the lyrics entirely in her mind.

The Rev. Alfred T. Day: “Fanny Crosby was not held back at all by her blindness. And probably the words of her poetry and hymns helped more people to see and know and experience Jesus as anybody with two working eyes and 20/20 vision.”

Crosby’s writings never brought her wealth. She was often paid just a dollar or two per poem with the rights to the songs being retained by the composer or music publishers. At one point, the songstress was destitute but Crosby wrote in her autobiography that the songs were God’s work and not for profit. Any royalties she received were often donated toward the mission work she championed with prisoners, homeless people, immigrants and the poor. Crosby was most drawn to her denomination’s work with the marginalized and her songs spoke to social issues of the day including the temperance movement and the campaign against child labor.

Middle class women in nineteenth-century United States had little voice in worship, however. One of the only ways for a woman to claim the authority to be heard was by direct personal revelation from God. Fanny Crosby readily claimed God’s personal revelation as a source for her hymns; her personal revelation then became a communal inspiration as Christians throughout the world sang her hymns and confirmed her faith experience as their own.

So it is in honor of Fanny Crosby, and in the spirit of inclusivity, that we sing this song today.

Special Music Sunday

On February 24th we enjoyed Mozart’s Missa brevis in B-flat Major, K.275. We’re grateful to Jim Barkovic for his amazing leadership, to all our WCUC musicians and our guest musicians! Thanks also to David Swain for capturing some of the magic with this sound recording.

The second (below) is from the postlude, Ave verum Corpus, K.618.


Handbell News

  • September 23, 2014

handbells“I’ve always wanted to play handbells!” These immortal words were uttered a week ago by the newest member of the Handbell Choir, Amy G.. She jumped into the fray at the first rehearsal of the season on September 3rd. Now, with two rehearsals under her belt, she’s realizing her dream!

The Handbell Choir has been blessed in 2014 with the addition of three ringers to its ranks: Janet, Amy , and Tom . They join our veteran ringers to make eleven ringers in the choir — a record for WCUC! While having eleven ringers is awesome, we have, as a result, outgrown our small two octave (25 bells) set of handbells. (Typically, eight ringers are needed for a two octave set.) Eleven ringers is the ideal number for an expanded three octave (37 bells) set of bells. While researching the cost of expanding from two to three octaves– three tables, three pads, the third octave of handbells and cases to store them– we are currently borrowing what we need on a weekly basis from Holy Family Parish. (Many thanks to HFP!) So, don’t be surprised when you see oodles of tables and bells on the chancel some upcoming Sunday. And, of course, watch for our eleven amazing ringers!

~Jim

John Bell: Singing with the Global Church

We have the great privilege of welcoming John Bell, internationally acclaimed preacher, sized_Copy of BELL.1bwteacher, songwriter, and musician from the Iona Community in Scotland to WCUC on October 12th and 13th.  On Saturday, we’ll gather at 7pm for an interactive workshop for all ages, “Singing with the Global Church.”  On Sunday morning, John will offer a sermon during worship.

Please register with the office if you would like to attend the Saturday workshop, to save your spot.  Registration is free; Donations will be requested at the door.  978-369-6309 or office@westconcordunionchurch.org.

Don’t miss it!  And spread the word if you can — here’s our poster.