Posted by: rcottrill | July 10, 2010

Today in 1908 – Phoebe Knapp Died

Some confusion has resulted in hymn history from Mr. and Mrs. Walter Palmer naming their daughter after her mother! Hymn books sometimes credit one instead of the other for a particular song. But here is the correct information.

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.)

On one occasion the younger Phoebe combined her talents with those of Fanny Crosby in the writing of a hymn. Fanny says, “My friend, Mrs. Knapp, composed a melody, and played it over to me two or three times on the piano. She then asked me what it said, and I immediately replied Blessed Assurance.” In just a few minutes, Fanny Crosby supplied the words for the song, and it was published in 1873.

The Lord Jesus says of His own, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28). Paul testifies, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded [convinced] that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day [i.e. the day of Christ’s return]” (II Tim. 1:12). And Jude describes Christians as “those who are…preserved [kept safe] in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1).

It is the privilege of the Christian to be assured of his eternal salvation. As R. A. Torrey put it, “It is the blood of Christ that makes us safe; it is the Word of God that makes us sure.”

Blessèd 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.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour, all the day long.

(2) Today in 1942 – Edmund Simon Lorenz Died
Mr. Lorenz is responsible for one of the most repetitious gospel songs we have! He wrote the 1876 original in German, and it was translated into English by Jeremiah Rankin four years later. One little song, and it repeats the same four-word phrase 24 times! Not surprisingly, that phrase has given the song its title, Tell It to Jesus. So we have:

Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you grieving over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a Friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

But before we dismiss Edmund Simon Lorenz’s repetitive work as unworthy of our attention, ask yourself this question: Do I “tell it to Jesus”? In other words, do we pray about the things that are troubling us? Sometimes (and I speak for myself) we spend way too much time worrying, or fretfully struggling first, before we think to bring our need to the Lord!

The Bible is full of exhortations to pray. “Men always ought to pray” (Lk. 18:1); “continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Rom. 12:12); “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18); “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). Perhaps, given our frequent failures in this area, we need Edmund Lorenz’s 24 reminders after all!

And here, with a nod to the saying “different strokes for different folks” (within limits!), is a Bluegrass version of Mr. Lorenz’s song. Outstanding pickin’ and a-strummin’, and I believe the folks are sincere in their sharing of the message of the song. But whether this is your cup of tea or not, you can let me know.


  1. Hello ‘
    I am trying to trace a Pheobe Knapp from around the same era as your Mrs Knapp, as part of research on a old patchwork quilt .
    can you tell me if you have any record of family or friends of Pheobe Knapp especially by the name of Jones
    Many thanks

    Joan Jones

    • Well! I get all kinds of questions, but that’s a new one. I’m not really an expert on genealogies, so can’t really tell you much about the family of the two Pheobes (mother and daughter). There are, however, over 20 Joneses listed on the Cyber Hymnal here, who were hymn writers. For example, Lewis E. Jones (1865-1936), who wrote “There Is Power in the Blood,” lived around the same time as the younger Pheobe, Pheobe Palmer Knapp (1839-1908). It is conceiveable that their common area of ministry led to a friendship. I simply don’t know. But you could check the list under the J’s in the Cyber Hymnal and list any writers with the name Jones that perhaps lived near Mrs. Knapp. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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