I can't count the number of times we've sung a hymn at church that seemed to lift me off the pew... only to look at the top of the music to find Fanny J. Crosby as the lyricist. Born Frances Jane Crosby on March 24, 1820, she was a lifelong Methodist and wrote over 8,000 hymns in her lifetime.
When we met together this past Saturday night for our monthly church social, we took some time to sing... and once again, we turned to one of Fanny's songs. I noted how much I loved her words, and Brother Chris, Brother Jerry and others told me that Fanny also used pseudonyms to not draw attention to herself and her large body of work.
All The Way My Savior Leads Me, Saved By Grace, Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior, Safe In The Arms Of Jesus, Blessed Assurance, Near The Cross, I Am Thine O Lord (Draw Me Nearer), Savior More Than Life To Me, Tell Me The Story of Jesus, Close To Thee, He Hideth My Soul, Hide Thou Me, Praise Him Praise Him, Redeemed How I Love To Proclaim It!, and so many more. It is hard to believe that one person could write so many songs... especially with such beautiful words. But, when discovering more of her story, it was clear that she had a God-given gift in expressing the joys and valleys of life and she gave God all of the praise and honor.
Blind from the age of six weeks, Fanny was guided in her studies by her grandmother and their landlady while her mother worked as a maid. (Fanny's dad died when Fanny was one year old.) Fanny attended the New York School for the Blind where she eventually became a faculty member and met her husband. Several volumes of her poetry were published. She lived a full life while meeting presidents and dignitaries of the day, and it is written that she never seemed bitter about her blindness. Of course, Fanny would be able to say it best - even at the young age of nine:
"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."
Later, she commented, "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me."
She could see far beyond her physical limitations, and I pray more of us might gain the sight she had.
"When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!"
I cannot say any more than what is already printed on the web site dedicated to her. The pages are filled with wonderful details of her upbringing, life as a teacher, and musical collaborations. If her hymns and life interest you, I hope you will take the time to read more about this precious saint.
Do you have a favorite Fanny J. Crosby hymn?