One of God’s general that influenced the world is the writer of favorite songs and hymns.
Wherever the gospel of Christ has found lodgment, the countless songs of Fanny Crosby, the subject of this article, has brought comfort to Christian hearts and stirred up inspiration that will abide as long as life shall last.
Frances Jane Van Alystyne, poet and hymn writer , popularly known by Fanny Crosby, was born in south east , Putnam County, New York, March 24,1820. She lost her sight when she was six weeks old due to negligence of an attending physician during a period of sickness, despite this severe affliction she was noted for her cheerful and happy disposition.
In 1835 she enrolled in the New York institution for the blind and proves to be one of the brightest of its favored pupils. She completed her course of instruction in 1842. In 1847 she was appointed teacher of English grammar, rhetoric, Roman and Greek history in the same institution and retained this position acceptably until March 1st, 1858.In 1851 she joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which she has ever been a devoted member.
At a very young age she manifested poetic talent, composing creditable verses at the remarkably early age of eight years. She is described as an impressionable child, keenly appreciative of the beauties of nature, and left so greatly to her own thoughts, her intellect matured rapidly.
Her first volume of verse appeared in 1844, under the title “A Blind Girl and other Poems” and others, some of which were set to music by George F. Root.
She began to write Sunday school hymns for W.B Bradbury in 1864. Her first hymn,
“We are going, we are going to a home beyond the skies”, was written at the Ponton Hotel on Franklin street, New York city, on February of that year. This hymn was sung at Bradbury’s funeral in Jan, 1868.During the succeeding 32 years she has been pouring forth from the riches of her heart and intellect, hymn, songs and poems until they now number over 7,000.
Think of it! Nearly a hundred hymns each year for 70years. Her output would fill seven large volumes of a thousand hymns each, and she never appears to have grown weary of this her prodigious task.
Since 1864 she has supported herself by writing hymns. She resided in New York City nearly all her life.
Fanny Crosby’s hymns have been in great demand and have been used by many popular composers including W. Bradbury, Geo F Root, and W.H Doane, Ira D Sankey, P. Main and others. She can compose at any time and does not need to wait for any special inspiration, and her best hymns have come on the spur of the moment.
Fanny loves her work and is happy in it. The secret of this contentment dates back from her first composition at the age of eight years. “It has been the motto of my life “she says
It is : “O what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this World contended I will be,
How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t!
To weep and sigh because I am blind, I cannot and I won’t”
This has continued to be her philosophy. She says that had it not been for her affliction she might not have so good education, nor so great influence, and certainly not so fine a memory.
In 1858 Miss Crosby was married to Prof. Alexander Van Alystne, a talented teacher of music in New York, and like herself totally blind. She has, however continued to write under her maiden name, Fanny Crosby, which she has become justly noted.
Majority of Fanny’s published hymns have appeared under the name of Fanny J. Crosby or Mrs. Van Alystne.
She owes much of her fame to that fine Christian musician , Ira D Sankey, who put many of her hymns to music and sang them in his missions with D.L Moody.Mr Sankey himself lost his sight towards the end of his life , and often visited his blind friend after he retired from active service.
Her hymns are characterized by simplicity, directness and intense earnestness. Among the most popular are:
- Safe in the Arms of Jesus
- Pass me not, O Gentle Savior
- I am Thine, O Lord
- There’s a cry from Macedonia
- I feel like singing all the time
- Praise Him Praise Him
- To the work, to the work
- Blessed assurance
- Close to thee
- Saved by Grace
- Thy word is a lamp to my feet , O Lord
- Hast thou trimmed thy lamp, my brother?
- Never say Goodbye
And many more.
Fanny Crosby is a salient God’s general. Her cheerfulness, faithfulness, quality use of time and contentment are worthy of emulation.
I am truly inspired by the life and works of Fanny.
(With excerpts from Christian Biography Resources)