It’s Friday and time to take a look at another gospel song. As I thought back over the many gospel songs I grew up singing, I noticed how many had the same name listed as the author….Fanny Crosby.
Songs I have loved:
- Blessed Assurance
- To God Be the Glory
- Rescue the Perishing
- Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross
- I Am Thine O Lord
- Near the Cross
The list goes on and on. I don’t think anyone knows exactly how many songs she wrote. In my research I found articles giving numbers from 5,000 to 9,000.
For anyone to write so many songs – with so many becoming favorites – is amazing. When you realize this woman was blind it is even more amazing.
Born in 1820 she became ill and a man who was later determined to be a quack prescribed hot mustard poultices for her eyes. The treatment left her blind at just a few weeks old. Shortly thereafter, her father died leaving her mother to support the family. Fanny was then raised by her Christian grandmother.
She quickly showed signs of high intelligence, memorizing large portions of the Bible. She had a positive attitude about her blindness, writing a poem at age eight expressing her outlook on life.
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!
Often asked how disappointing it must be to have been blind since a small baby, 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.”
She attended the New York Institute for the Blind in New York. After 12 years as a student, she then became a teacher there for another 11 years. She met her husband there, Alexander van Alstine. An accomplished organist, he wrote the music to many of her hymns. While she wrote the words to these many songs, she composed the music to only a few of them. Rather, many musicians would bring their music to her and ask her to compose words to fit the music.
The contract she had with the music publisher require her to submit three hymns a week. However, she usually wrote six or seven a day. Writing that many songs naturally meant that many were simple, sentimental verses – but she did also compose music with a more classical structure. When Dwight Moody began holding revivals in the late 1800’s with the musician Ira Sankey they introduced many of Fanny’s songs to the masses and from there they became popular.
Her songs were especially popular with the Methodist denomination and they used to hold an annual “Fanny Crosby Day.”
Today she has been all but forgotten by the modern church and as the last of the baby boomers die, her songs will probably be remembered no more.
But for those baby boomers who loved her songs here’s one of my favorite for you to enjoy.