Blind Songwriter of 8000 Hymns—Fanny Crosby
February 8th 2010 06:15
Born on March 24, 1820, she had a long and happy life. She lived to nearly ninety-four years for her Savior. She became blind when a doctor was not available when she was six-weeks of age. A quack was advised, and he recommended a mustard plaster, the cause of her blindness. About a year later, her father died. Thus, Fanny was raised by her mother and grandmother and spent a lot of time in the Protestant movement. This was where she became acquainted with the Bible and memorized portions of the Holy Word.
During her teen years, she enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind. This was where Fanny began singing, playing the guitar and piano. Her music was one of her interests although she had been writing poetry from about age eight years. Fanny realized that her blindness made her better. She wrote one of her earlier poems from eight years of age.
“Oh what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don't;
To weep and sigh because I'm blind,
I cannot, and I won't."
For Fanny, marriage was also available. She married a fellow teacher, a man who was also blind, in 1858. They had one daughter who died very early in life. The husband, Alexander Van Alstyne, insisted that she continue to write using her maiden name rather than to write using his name. However, she also used many pseudonyms for her writing. As to Fanny’s marriage, it ended in 1902 when Alexander died.
Fanny said that if God would give her back her sight, she would not accept it since her blindness helped her to see spiritual insights that she maybe would not have seen if she had been sighted.
Although considered feeble by many people, Fanny was very outstanding in other realms besides her religious beliefs. Dignitaries, presidents, and military generals all knew her. She also played the hymn, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus”, at the funeral of President Grant in1885. She became a popular public speaker during her later years.
She was not only a gifted speaker, but she also was a gifted hearer of the many speakers around her. She attended many public religious gatherings to hear others. She was often at God’s Bible School in Cincinnati during their camp meetings.
This article has provided her outward life to a great degree. However, Frances Crosby (Alstyne) was most in love with Jesus, her Savior. Her thousands of poems and songs reveal that Jesus Christ was her major lover. She was quoted as saying, “When I get to Heaven, the first face that shall gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” Her poems, which became songs, were in her mind until she could have someone record them. She is said to have up to twelve hymns or poems in her mind at once.
The well-known hymn writers of her day used her poems in the songs that have been credited to her. William B. Bradbury, Robert Lowery, Ira D. Sankey, Philip P. Bliss and many others of her time used Fanny’s poems. She wrote nearly 8000 poems which became hymns. It has been reported that many publishers of hymn books decided to not record many of her writings since they may be accused of writing about her poems too much.
Although she could not remember ever having eyesight, so many of Fanny’s poems have incidents of “seeing” in them. “Blessed Assurance” has “visions of rapture” in the second verse. The third verse has “watching and waiting, looking above” in the song.
“My Savior First of All” has so many visionary areas in it. “When I view His blessed face” and “robes of spotless white” are all visionary messages from this blind saint of God.
So many songs from this blinded songwriter have helped us to see what her blindness was able to see. Just to name of few of her anointed songs, let’s take a quite look into most of the Protestant hymnals of the last 130 years. Fanny Crosby’s name is attached to so many of our greatest songs of triumph.
To God Be the Glory
Draw Me Nearer
Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Savior, More Than Life to Me
Rescue the Perishing
Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It
Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior
Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home
All the Way My Savior Leads Me
I Am Thine, O Lord
Praise Him, Praise Him
It is said that soldiers around 1900 were very much aware of the writings of this brave woman of God, the story is told.
“During the re¬cent war in the Trans¬vaal when the sol¬diers go¬ing to the front were pass¬ing ano¬ther bo¬dy of sol¬diers whom they re¬cog¬nized, their greet¬ings used to be, ‘Four-nine-four, boys; four-nine-four’ and the sa¬lute would in¬var¬i¬a¬bly be an¬swered with ‘Six fur¬ther on, boys; six fur¬ther on.’ The sig¬nif¬i¬cance of this was that, in ‘Sac¬red Songs and So¬los,’ a num¬ber of co¬pies of the small edi¬tion of which had been sent to the front, num¬ber 494 was ‘God Be With You Until We Meet Again’ and six fur¬ther on than 494, or num¬ber 500, was ‘Bless¬ed As¬sur¬ance, Je¬sus is mine.’”
How little is our sight when compared to this blind saint of God. We remember you Fanny Crosby for helping us to see our Savior.
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