During the summer of 1886, Fanny Crosby was my guest at Northfield. One day I composed this tune, and said to her:
“Why not write a poem for this tune to-night? ”The spirit of poetry did not seem to be upon her, and she answered:
“No, I cannot do it at present. ”The following day we went for a drive, and expected her to go with us, but to our astonishment, she asked to be excused, saying that she had something she wished to do. After we had gone, a number of students came in and had a pleasant chat with Fanny Crosby, and after they had gone she sat down at the piano and played my tune over, and the words of the hymn came to her as they now stand. Upon our return she hastened to meet us, and recited the verses to me. Fanny Crosby spent eight summers with us at Northfield, and on a recent visit here she told me that some of her happiest days were those at Northfield, and, referring to this hymn, she said she knew that she had been permitted to do a little good there. She also told me that she knew that many a poor soul had been comforted by this simple hymn.