Heroines of the faith: Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby was one of the most prolific and best-known hymn writers of all time, composing more than 9,000 hymns, many of which are still popular today, as well as secular poetry. Blind from soon after birth, she loved to compose simple gospel songs that could be used in evangelism. Ira Sankey attributed much of the success of the crusades he did with DL Moody to her songs. She was reknowned for her preaching and rescue missions work.

Photo credit: www.cyberhymnal.org 

Frances Jane Crosby was born in 1806, and at six weeks old, she developed a fever and eye infection. A “quack” prescribed mustard poultices to put on her eyes–and this may have been the cause of her blindness. Once when someone remarked on it, she replied, ” “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

A few weeks after her illness, her father died and Fanny was mainly raised by her grandmother.

Fanny had a deep love for the Bible. As a child she memorized large portions of it–often 5 chapters a week–and could recite whole books. She wrote her first poem when she was eight.

Just before her 15th birthday, Fanny was sent to the newly founded New York Institute for the Blind, where she remained for 12 years as a student and 11 as a teacher. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the blind, speaking to Congress about the need for education for the blind and having conversations with the presidents of the day.

Although she could play several musical instruments, she preferred to write poetry. Her husband, also blind and an accomplished organist, wrote the music to many of her hymns. She wrote so many hymns that she used over 200 pseudonyms because some publishers of hymn books were hesitant to have so many hymns by a single author. Her hymns include such favorites as Blessed Assurance (which she wrote with Phoebe Knapp, daughter or Phoebe Palmer), Rescue the Perishing, Safe in the Arms of Jesus.

Fanny Crosby had a “horror of wealth.” She gave away anything she did not need to the poor. When she and her husband separated, she lived near the slums in order to be able to devote more of her time to serving the poor. Some of her wealthier friends supported her, but often she would give the money away. She died just before her 95th birthday.

Here’s one of her hymns:

To God be the glory, great things He hath done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

Verse 2
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

(Refrain)

Verse 3
Great things He hath taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Information for this post came from here and here

5 thoughts on “Heroines of the faith: Fanny Crosby”

  1. I smiled all the way through reading this….
    When I was a young girl growing up in church I became familiar with the name, Fanny Crosby to the point that, after a while I felt has if I knew her!
    I was also inspired by how many beautiful and moving hymns she wrote.
    I love her hymns.
    Now I can put a face to the name.
    Thank you for this info Felicity.

    Like

  2. Thanks for your comments everyone. I’ll bet most of us know a number of the hymns she wrote–many of which are among my favorites.

    Like

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