Today I released an updated version of the hymn “Blessed Assurance.” (Click the player to the right to stream the track.) The hymn was written in the late 1800s by a blind hymn-writer named Fanny Crosby. Though I was familiar with the original tune from my childhood, this new melody was written by some friends of mine, Ben and Jess Newell.
I actually recorded two different versions of this song before landing on this arrangement. The first version was way too happy. It was an upbeat acoustic song, and it confirmed my wife’s philosophy that “anything that’s up-tempo and acoustic with handclaps automatically sounds like John Mellancamp.” So that was a bust. The second version was way slow and emo. The lyrics say “watching and waiting…” My second version sounded more like it was “waiting and dying.”
Both of my first two attempts failed to capture the heart of Crosby’s lyrics. The words of the hymn are simple, but it’s implications are not. If you read between the lines a bit, you can see that the lyrics imply a strange depth to Crosby’s relationship to Christ. There is a certain sense of present contentment coupled with the future hope of Christ’s return.
The balance of these two seems to be near-impossible. I admit that I tend to neglect one or the other, and neither extreme is healthy.
My buddy Brandon Andress recently wrote about how Christians getting caught up in “the End Times” can be dangerous. Without remaining grounded in the present, Christians can easily get wrapped up in the post-apocalyptic bizarro-world where Kirk Cameron is actually a respectable actor. Pretty soon you’re making video games that murder non-Christians and hiding out in a bomb shelter drinking Kool-Aid with Joel Osteen. Scary.
But the other side of the coin is obsessing over the responsibilities of our lives. We stop trusting that God has our backs. When we get wrapped up in our worries, it’s easy to become so concerned with this life that we forget about the return of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. Most of us get more excited about the series finale of “The Office” than we do about Christ’s second coming, do we not? A lot of us express more concern that Starbucks screwed up our order than we do for our friends or family that don’t know the phenomenal love of God, right?
When we lose the balance of present contentment and future hope, we get wacky. Our priorities get really screwed up. Both extremes are bad. But how do we maintain the proper balance? I believe- and Franny Crosby believed- that the balance lies in “abiding in Christ.” Stay tuned for more on what the heck “abiding” means…
Let me know your thoughts on the new track in the comments section.