Posted by: rcottrill | March 9, 2010

Today in 1825 – Anna Barbauld Died

Born in 1743, English poetess Anna Laetitia Aikin Barbauld was the daughter of a dissenting (non-Anglican) clergyman named John Aiken. In 1753 she became a classics tutor and wrote a number of hymns, including Come, Said Jesus’ Sacred Voice. In 1774, Anna married Rev. Rochemont Barbauld.

“Come,” said Jesus’ sacred voice,
“Come, and make My paths your choice;
I will guide you to your home,
Weary pilgrim, hither come.

“Hither come, for here is found
Balm that flows for every wound,
Peace that ever shall endure,
Rest eternal, sacred, sure.”

(2) Today in 1839 – Phoebe Knapp Born
Phoebe is a Bible name (Rom. 16:1-2), meaning radiant, and it seems, from Paul’s description, that this woman was indeed a radiant Christian, shining for the Lord!

Outstanding in her own time was another Phoebe, Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874). Mrs. Palmer, and her husband Walter, were both evangelists. She also held weekly prayer meetings in their home for nearly 50 years, and did charitable work among the slum tenements of New York City. In addition, she became the editor of a religious magazine, and wrote a number of books. Though not all would agree with some of her beliefs, she was a dynamic Christian who had a great impact on the crowds that came to the camp meetings of the time.

In 1839, Phoebe gave birth to a daughter whom the Palmers named Phoebe, after her mother. The younger Phoebe Palmer (1839-1908) went on to become a musician and hymn writer, producing some 500 hymns. She eventually married Joseph Fairchild Knapp, the founder of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The Knapps were immensely wealthy. The pipe organ in their palatial home was the largest in a private residence at the time. American presidents, Union Army generals and other notables were friends and frequent guests of the couple.

They were also staunch Christians, active as lay people in John Street Methodist Church, in New York. That was the church attended by Fanny Crosby, and the two women combined their talents for the writing of the hymn Blessed Assurance.

In 1871, Phoebe Knapp contacted her mother  asking her to write the words for a hymn. The resulting poem was set to music by the daughter, and it became The Cleansing Wave. (Because mother and daughter have the same first name, some hymn books have mistakenly attributed both words and music to the latter.)

Oh, now I see the cleansing wave!
The fountain deep and wide;
Jesus, my Lord, mighty to save,
Points to His wounded side.

The cleansing stream I see! I see!
I plunge, and oh, it cleanseth me!
Oh, praise the Lord! It cleanseth me!
It cleanseth me—yes, cleanseth me.

Amazing grace! ’tis heav’n below
To feel the blood applied,
And Jesus, only Jesus know,
My Jesus crucified.

A bit difficult to pick out the melody in the following orchestral arrangement, but this is The Cleansing Wave.


  1. […] Mrs. (Phoebe) Palmer (1807-1874), and her husband Walter, were both evangelists. In 1839, Phoebe gave birth to a daughter whom the Palmers named Phoebe, after her mother. The younger Phoebe (1839-1908), who eventually became Mrs. John Knapp, served the Lord as a musician and hymn writer, producing some 500 hymns. (For more on this mother-daughter team, see the second item under Today in 1825.) […]

  2. […] (3) Today in 1874 – Phoebe Palmer Died Phoebe Worrell Palmer wrote the gospel song The Cleansing Wave. Her daughter Phoebe (Phoebe Palmer Knapp) supplied the tune. The two Phoebes in one family, both involved in hymn writing, have given rise to some confusion. To sort things out and learn more about them, check the second item under Today in 1825. […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns (Phoebe Knapp born) The Cyber […]


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