Blessed Assurance captures, through song and drama, the wonderful story of Fanny Crosby, the most prolific of American hymn writers. She was a strong and energetic woman and an advocate for the blind. It was not uncommon for her to write six or seven hymns each week for a total of over 9,000 in her lifetime. She lived to be nearly 95.
Blessed Assurance highlights the friendship Fanny had with her friends and family. As they reminisce the characters share stories of how many of her most famous hymns were written and how they affected people around the world. Though she sometimes also wrote the music her forte was the lyrics. She collaborated with several different talented men and in her later years often got together with them to remember the past and credit God for their inspiration. Many of her well-known hymns are sung by the cast as the story progresses.
Gloria Emmerich used some “poetic license” to tie loose ends together but the essence of the story is factual and based on historic research. The interaction between each character is extraordinary and the impact on an audience is intense. Fanny’s songs are powerful, and the lyrics give authenticity to this extraordinary story and the remarkable lives of Fanny Crosby and her friends who changed so many hearts through the hymns they composed for the glory of God.
Our story begins with one of Fanny Crosby’s most famous hymns: “Blessed Assurance” which is sung by the entire cast. She loved her friends and family and in the opening scene, Fanny is sharing with her young niece, Natty about her early childhood and how she came to be blind and write poetry.
As the story progresses, Fanny and Natty are joined by two of the men, and their wives, with whom she often collaborated. They share insightful stories about how different hymns came to be written. Their accounts are enhanced with entertaining anecdotes and chronicle the fascinating incidents that led to the writing of some of today’s most beloved hymns and anthems.
The musical is bursting with the rich arrangements and harmony of 15 of Fanny’s remarkable hymns sung by the cast of characters in Blessed Assurance. Your audience will be charmed and inspired by the beautiful story of Fanny Crosby who, though faced with almost insurmountable obstacles, became a monumental figure in the history of the Christian faith both in America and around the world. In the final scene, Fanny is asked how she came to pen what became her signature lyrics for “To God Be the Glory.”
“… My grandmother was a firm believer in prayer; and, when I was very young, she taught me to believe that our Father in heaven will always give us whatever is for our good. I have never blamed God or the traveling doctor for my blindness. If it wasn’t for my blindness I might have been distracted by the beauty and wonderment around me and not focused on the words that He so lovingly poured into my heart and let flow from my lips. Every word that He gave me I did my best to give back to Him through poetry. What Satan meant for evil…God meant it for good. For me, blindness was a treasured gift and I never once asked God to give me back my sight. But I know I will receive it when I finally go home. Ira? (IRA’S wife guides him to FANNY’S side, and she takes his hand in hers.) One day we will see our beloved Jesus’ face… our eyes will be opened, and we shall see him face to face in all His majesty and glory. (The others move in and surround FANNY.) And then, my dear friends, when we are all together once again standing at the throne of God, with our hearts overflowing, we will sing, “To God Be the Glory… great things He hath done!”
The musical concludes with a stirring and robust full cast rendition of “To God Be the Glory” – perhaps her most beloved hymn.
Audiences loved singing or humming along with the familiar tunes in Blessed Assurance. Fanny Crosby was a courageous and determined woman. She never allowed her blindness to stand in the way of a unique ability to write poetry and lyrics that touched the hearts of men and women around the world. The audience often remarked: “I fell in love with the beautiful songs all over again.” “It was as though I had spent the afternoon with Miss Crosby.” “The hymns now have taken on a fresh new meaning to me.” “If Fanny could overcome all the obstacles that she did – I know I have nothing to complain about!”
When performed in its entirety, Blessed Assurance - The Fanny Crosby Story is about 2 hours long.
Cast of Characters
Ira D. Sankey
Natalie "Natty" Tate
THE USE OF A CHORUS
A chorus can be incorporated into this musical. Due to stage size, the original professional production did not use a chorus. However, a chorus of virtually any size could be added to a number of the songs throughout the musical. For instance, a choir or ensemble of singers could be permanently “stationed” to the left and/or right of the stage and sing along in the choral numbers. The audience will mentally adjust to the concept of having a side choir and quickly and readily accept the extra singers as part of the overall production. Another solution to adding singers would be for the director of your production to use their imagination and perhaps “bring friends by” to join in a song occasionally.
You should not be concerned if you don’t have chorus members to add to the production. The harmonies are still gorgeous without the use of a large ensemble or choir. One way or the other the audience will love hearing the rich harmonies so seldom realized in much of the modern church experience. Full-bodied orchestrations, in many of the songs, fill in the gaps and your show will not be negatively impacted in any way by not having additional singers. Make every effort to be sure your actors are also singers who can hold their own in a choral situation.
Special note: This show could easily be done as “readers theatre.” Additionally, to cut down on the length it would not be difficult to simply eliminate some of the dialogue between vocal numbers and do several of the songs back to back. Or, entire scenes and songs could be cut if you wished as long as the storyline was not negatively impacted. With some “creative editing” the overall length of the show could be cut back considerably.
SET AND PROP REQUIREMENTS
As with all our musicals, the sets can be very simple with only minimal scenery. The set for Blessed Assurance does not need to be complex. In the original production we obtained wicker patio furniture because it looked “period” and dressed the stage with various other props that gave us the authentic “turn of the last century” look we were after. In that production we chose to use a painted backdrop to give the audience a sense that we were in an outdoor woodsy area (in upstate New York). In your production you may wish to be somewhat more elaborate and replicate an actual porch with the outside wall of a “nicer” home as the back wall. More information, and dozens of other production helps, are all found in the DIRECTOR’S NOTES which come free as part of the Musical Production Kit designed especially for this musical. Sample pictures of sets used in the original production of this, and many other Gloria Emmerich musicals, can be found by going to the photo gallery on this website.
Click on the link below to download a perusal script. This perusal excerpt is available to assist you in the play selection process.
Excerpts are not intended for performance or academic use. In any of these cases you will need to purchase the rights via our website or by phone.
A full perusal script of this show is available for purchase on the “Pricing” page.
Click on the links below to listen to songs from Blessed Assurance - The Fanny Crosby Story