Knapp was born in New York City. Her parents were Walter C. Palmer and Phoebe Worrall Palmer. She married Joseph Fairchild Knapp, one of the founders and the second president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He had a pipe organ installed in their apartment.
She wrote over 500 hymn tunes, the most familiar being the tune now called "Assurance" for Fanny Crosby's lyrics Blessed Assurance. Another hymn by Fanny Crosby for which Knapp wrote the music is "Nearer the Cross". Other hymn tunes by Knapp include "Albertson", the tune for "Jesus Christ is Passing By" by J. Denham Smith, and for "When My Love to Christ Grows Weak" by John R. Wreford. Her tune "Consecration" has been matched to "My Spirit Soul and Body" by Mary Dagworthy James. Phoebe Palmer Knapp also wrote sacred choral and solo works, perhaps the best known of which is the Palm Sunday aria "Open the Gates of the Temple".
Knapp died in Poland, Maine.
- The Knapps Lived Here
- MIDI files of some of her hymns at Cyber Hymnal
- Free MP3 file of Blessed Assurance at HymnsWithoutWords
- The Mutopia Project has compositions by Phoebe Knapp
- Works by or about Phoebe Knapp at Internet Archive
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