Who is Fanny Crosby
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Fanny Crosby is widely recognized as one of the great American hymnists, renowned for her beautifully crafted Christian hymns.
Despite being blind from an early age, this prolific hymn writer composed over 8,000 hymn lyrics throughout her lifetime.
Many of her hymns have become cherished and well-known in various Christian denominations. Some notable examples include “Blessed Assurance,” “To God Be the Glory,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” and many more.
Fanny Jane Crosby earned the title of “Queen of Gospel Song Writers,” and her hymns and gospel songs became emblematic of the revival music of her time.
Furthermore, Fanny Crosby played a significant role in the late 19th century “rescue mission” movement, particularly in New York, solidifying her reputation as a prominent figure of that era.
Fanny Jane Crosby Birth
Fanny Jane Crosby was born on March 24, 1820, in Southeast, Putnam County, New York City.
She was the only child of her parents, Mr. John and Mercy Crosby. Prior to marrying Mercy, her father had a daughter from a previous marriage.
Tragically, Fanny’s father passed away before she turned one year old, leaving her and her older half-sister under the care of their mother.
However, due to her mother’s demanding job as a maid to provide for the family, she had limited availability to directly care for Fanny. Consequently, Fanny was primarily raised by her maternal grandmother, who was a devout Christian.
Fanny Crosby was not born blind and was able to see for two months until she developed eye inflammation. Unfortunately, the family’s regular doctor was unavailable at the time.
Desperate for treatment, they sought the help of a nearby town doctor who claimed to be a certified medical professional. This doctor applied poultices to Fanny’s eyes in an attempt to cure the infection.
While the infection eventually cleared, the poultices left white scars on Fanny’s eyes, resulting in permanent damage to her vision. From that point on, she could only perceive light and was unable to see objects.
The family later discovered that the doctor who treated Fanny was a quack, and he disappeared without a trace.
This tragic event occurred before Fanny’s father passed away a few months later, in November 1820. When Fanny was three years old, the family relocated to the North Salem area of New York, where her grandmother Eunice had been raised.
At the age of five, some kind-hearted neighbors raised money to send Fanny to see a specialist in New York. She visited Dr. Valentine Mott, a renowned surgeon, who carefully examined her eyes.
Sadly, he concluded that nothing could be done to restore her sight, as her blindness was permanent.
Fanny Crosby was fortunate to have a grandmother who played a crucial role in her Christian upbringing and education. Her grandmother devoted much of her time to reading the Bible and carefully selecting poetry and literature for Fanny.
As a result, Fanny developed an impressive ability to memorize lengthy passages from both the Old and New Testaments by actively listening to her grandmother.
In fact, she could recite many chapters and verses from the Psalms, the Song of Solomon, Proverbs, the Gospels, and the Pentateuch even as a young child.
Additionally, Fanny’s exposure to poetry ignited her love for the art form, and she began writing her own poems at a tender age. At the age of eight, she penned her first poem, which aptly described her condition.
The opening verse of her poem reads, “Oh, what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world, content I will be.”
In the second verse, she expresses, “How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don’t; to weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot, and I won’t!”
Fanny Crosby Life at New York Institution for the Blind
In 1835, when Fanny Crosby was not yet fifteen years old, she was admitted to the New York Institution for the Blind (NYIB). She spent a remarkable eight years studying at the school.
After completing her studies, she was invited to stay at the institution as a graduate student. Eventually, she joined the school’s faculty as a teacher of grammar, rhetoric, and history. Fanny Crosby remained at the institution until March 1858.
During her time at the NYIB, Fanny embraced various musical opportunities. She eagerly learned to play instruments such as the guitar, harp, piano, and organ. Additionally, she received training as a soprano singer, refining her vocal abilities.
The institution provided an environment that allowed Fanny Crosby to thrive, offering her a platform to showcase her talent as a poet. She naturally excelled at composing verses and wrote extensively for herself and others. Notably, Fanny penned lyrics for musical compositions such as “There’s Music in the Air” and “Hazel Dell,” among many others.
Furthermore, Fanny collaborated with George F. Root, the music instructor at the school. Together, they created a cantata called “The Flower Queen,” showcasing their combined talents.
Fanny Crosby Christian Life
Fanny Crosby held her family’s values of morality, integrity, loyalty, and devotion to duty in high regard. These values were instilled in her by her grandmother and remained at the core of her character.
Throughout her life’s work and ministry, Fanny exemplified these values in various ways. Despite being raised in a Christian environment, she made a genuine commitment to Christ in 1850. This personal dedication took place before the Lord at New York’s Broadway Tabernacle.
Following her spiritual transformation, Fanny became a member of the Sixth Avenue Bible Baptist Church in Brooklyn. She actively served the Lord in the church, taking on roles as a lay preacher, deaconess, and urban missionary.
Fanny Crosby’s teaching was renowned for its inspiration and educational value. Her dedication extended to her involvement in rescue mission assignments, where she passionately worked to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Churches Attended by Fanny Crosby
Fanny J Crosby was known to attend churches of various denominations in the spring of 1887.
One of the churches she frequented was the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights, which was led by Henry Ward Beecher. Beecher, an abolitionist and innovator in church music, was a Congregationalist minister.
Fanny also attended Trinity Episcopal Church, a historic parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
Additionally, she found herself worshiping at the North West Dutch Reformed Church and the Brooklyn Tabernacle, formerly known as Central Presbyterian Church.
Fanny Crosby considered Reverend Theodore Ledyard Cuyler of the North East Dutch Reformed Church her favorite preacher. As a believer, she aligned herself with the Wesleyan holiness movement and frequently attended Wesleyan/Holiness camp meetings.
Moreover, Fanny had notable connections within the American Holiness movement. She counted Walter and Phoebe Palmer, known as “the mother of the holiness movement,” among her friends.
As a guest, she often visited the Methodist campgrounds at Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
Fanny Crosby Life As A Hymnist
Without a doubt, Fanny Crosby stands as one of the most remarkable hymn writers in history, leaving an indelible mark on the world. Her hymn texts are not only inspiring but also deeply rooted in the essence of the true gospel.
Fanny Crosby embarked on her hymn-writing journey in 1851, crafting verses that harmonized with melodies. Guided by divine inspiration and her poetic prowess, she began to shape hymns that would touch the hearts of many.
As the years passed, Fanny’s hymns gained recognition and found their place in the hymnals of various Christian denominations during the 1860s.
One of Fanny Crosby’s distinct characteristics was her skillful use of words drawn from the Bible. She ingeniously transformed these words, infusing them with profound meaning and significance.
Furthermore, Fanny Crosby’s hymns transcend mere talent. They possess a depth and richness that resonate with listeners, captivating their souls.
Throughout her life, Fanny Jane Crosby penned an astounding number of hymns—approximately 9,000. Among her vast collection, hymns like “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory” have become timeless classics, cherished by countless individuals today.
Fanny Crosby Hymns
Fanny Crosby’s lyrics capture the essence of Christian devotion, offering solace, inspiration, and a deeper connection to God.
Through her heartfelt words and beautiful melodies, she invites listeners to experience the power of faith and the joy of praising God.
Her hymns will remain a source of comfort, encouragement, and spiritual nourishment for generations to come.
Fanny Crosby’s hymns are a testament to her deep faith, profound insight, and remarkable gift for poetry.
As one of the most prolific hymn writers in history, she composed over 9,000 hymns that continue to resonate with people today.
Her hymns, such as “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory,” have become timeless classics, cherished by congregations worldwide.
Fanny Crosby had a deliberate intention behind her hymn writing, aiming to lead souls to Christ. It is documented that she kept records of individuals who reported encountering Christ through her hymns.
She emphasized the importance of prayer in her hymn-writing process, expressing that she always sought divine inspiration before embarking on a hymn. In her own words, she stated, “It may seem a little old-fashioned to always begin one’s work with prayer, but I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration” (Fanny J. Crosby).
In her autobiography, published in 1860, the prolific hymn writer made it clear that she did not write her hymns for financial or commercial gain. She declared that her hymns were composed in a sanctified manner.
Furthermore, she elaborated that all the royalties she received from her hymns were dedicated to “worthy causes.”
Popular Hymns by Fanny Crosby
The texts of the following hymns, among many others, were written by Fanny Crosby:
Draw me Nearer
Every Day and Hour
He Hideth My Soul
Rescue the Perishing
Close to Thee
All The Way My Saviour Leeds Me
Praise Him Praise Him
Moment of Prayer
Pass Me Not O gentle Savoiur
Near The Cross
Saved by Grace
Safe in The Arm of Jesus
To God Be the Glory
Keep Me Near the Cross
Click on the link here: “Fanny Crosby Hymns” to read and learn more about her hymns.
Fanny Crosby tied the knot with Alexander Van Alstyne in 1858, following which she decided to retire from her teaching career. Alexander, like Fanny, was also a music composer and faced challenges with his sight.
Tragically, the couple experienced the loss of their child shortly after birth in 1859. The details surrounding the child’s gender remain unknown, as Fanny rarely discussed this painful topic.
Interestingly, even after her marriage, Fanny chose to continue using her maiden name as the signature for all her hymn publications. As a result, her hymns have remained attributed to Fanny Crosby to this day, preserving her legacy.
Fanny Crosby Later Life
The renowned blind hymnologist departed to be with her Savior on February 12, 1915. Fanny Crosby passed away in Bridgeport after battling an illness for six months, which was diagnosed as arteriosclerosis and a cerebral hemorrhage.
Throughout her life, she was widely recognized as one of the most celebrated women in America. To this day, her works continue to be included in numerous American Hymnals, attesting to her enduring impact.
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