Authors:Frances Jane Crosby
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Frances Jane Crosby; (March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915) usually known as Fanny Crosby, but sometimes as Frances van Alstyne, was an American lyricist best known for her Protestant Christian hymns.
A lifelong Methodist, she was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 despite being blindness|blind since infancy. Also known for her public speaking, during her lifetime Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States.
To this day, the vast majority of American hymnals contain her work. Some of her best known songs include "Hymns:Blessed Assurance", "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home", "Praise Him, Praise Him", and "Hymns:To God Be the Glory".
Because some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 100 different pseudonyms during her career.
Early life and career
Fanny Crosby was born in Southeast, New York|Southeast, Putnam County, New York|Putnam County, New York to poor parents, John and Mercy Crosby. At six weeks old, she caught a cold and developed inflammation of the eyes. The family physician was not available, and a quack who came in his place recommended mustard plasters as treatment. The botched procedure blindness|blinded her.
Her father died when she was one year old, so she was raised by her mother and grandmother. These women grounded Crosby in Protestant Christian principles, helping her, for example, memorize long passages from the Bible. Crosby became an active member of the John Street Methodist Church|John Street Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City.
At age 15, Crosby enrolled at the New York Institute for the Blind (now the New York Institute for Special Education). She remained there for seven years. During that time she learned to play the piano and guitar and to sing. In 1843, she joined a group of lobbying|lobbyists in Washington, D.C. arguing for support of education for the blind. From 1847 to 1858, Crosby joined the faculty at the New York school, teaching English studies|English and history. She married Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind musician and fellow teacher, in 1858. At his insistence, she kept her maiden name. They had one daughter, Francis, who died while a baby. Alexander died on July 19, 1902.
Early writing career
Crosby was noted for writing poetry from the time she was eight years old. Her first published work was A Blind Girl and Other Poems (1844), followed by Monterey and Other Poems (1853) and A Wreath of Columbia's Flowers (1858).
She also wrote some popular songs, which were set to music by George F. Root. Some of them were "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower", "Hazel Dell", "There's Music in the Air". Crosby saw success with her secular verse writing, earning nearly $3,000 in royalties for her song "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower".
Image:Fanny Crosby - Project Gutenberg eText 18444.jpg|thumb|Fanny Crosby
Crosby did not spend her life in bitterness and defeat, but instead dedicated her life to Christ. At the age of eight she wrote these verses about her condition:
- 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."
She later remarked:
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 also once said, "when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior"
She composed her poems and hymns entirely in her mind and then dictated them to someone else. She was said to work mentally on as many as twelve hymns at once before dictating them all out.
Career in writing hymns
Image:A Hymn of Thanksgiving sheet music cover.jpg|right|upright|thumb|"A Hymn of Thanksgiving" sheet music cover Crosby wrote her first hymn in 1863 for the composer William B. Bradbury, a respected musician and publisher. It was called " There's a Cry from Macedonia". Over the years she wrote for Bradbury and for other composers, including Philip Phillips, Hubert P. Main, Robert Lowry (hymn writer)|Robert Lowry, William Howard Doane|W. H. Doane, Ira D. Sankey, Philip P. Bliss, Mr. W. F. Sherwin, and Phoebe Knapp. Before her death, she had written at least 8,000 hymns, using dozens of pen names.
Crosby was very well known during her time and often met with President of the United States|presidents, generals, and other dignitaries. She played the hymn "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" at Ulysses S. Grant|President Grant's funeral in 1885. In her later years, she also became a popular public speaker.
When she died, her tomb stone carried the words, "Aunt Fanny" and "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine." Eliza Hewitt memorialized Fanny’s passing in a poem:
- Away to the country of sunshine and song,
- Our songbird has taken her flight,
- And she who has sung in the darkness so long
- Now sings in the beautiful light.
Crosby is buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1975.
During 2010 the songwriter George Hamilton IV undertook a tour of Methodist chapels celebrating Fanny's outstanding contribution to gospel music. His presentation included stories of her productive and charitable life, some of her hymns and a few of his own uplifting songs.
Crosby is honored with a feast day on the Calendar of saints (Episcopal Church in the United States of America)|liturgical of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on February 11.
Selected list of works
- "Hymns:All the Way My Savior Leads Me"--bef. 1875, music by Robert Wadsworth Lowry
- "Hymns:Blessed Assurance"--1873, music by Phoebe Knapp
- "The Bright Forever"--1871, music by Hubert P. Main
- "Close to Thee"--1874, music by Silas J. Vail
- "Hymns:Jesus is tenderly calling thee home"--1883, music by George C. Stebbins
- "I Am Thine, O Lord"--bef. 1875, music by W. Howard Doane
- "My Savior First of All"--1891, music by John R. Sweney
- "Near the Cross"--bef. 1869, music by W. Howard Doane
- "Hymns:Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour"--1868, music by W. Howard Doane
- "Praise Him, Praise Him"--bef. 1869, music by Chester G. Allen
- "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It]]"--bef. 1882, William J. Kirkpatrick
- "Rescue the Perishing"--1869, music by W. Howard Doane
- "Safe in the Arms of Jesus"--1878, music by W. Howard Doane
- "Saviour, More Than Life to Me"--1875, music by W. Howard Doane
- "Hymns:Tell Me the Story of Jesus"--bef. 1880, music by John R. Sweney
- "Hymns:To God Be the Glory"--1875, music by W. Howard Doane
- "Draw me Nearer"--1875, words by Fanny Crosby
- Blumhofer, Edith. Her Heart Can See: the Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby. ISBN 0-8028-4253-4.
- Crosby, Fanny. This is My Story, This Is My Song. ISBN 1-898787-41-7.
- Crosby, Fanny. Fanny Crosby's Life-Story by Herself (1903, Every Where Publishing Company, New York, London, Paris)
- Hearn, Chester. Safe in the Arms of Jesus: Biography of Fanny Crosby. ISBN 0-87508-665-9.
- Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1982). 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring True Stories behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.
- Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1985). 101 More Hymn Stories: The Inspiring True Stories behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.
- Osbeck, Kenneth W. (2002). Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.
- Ruffin, Bernard. Fanny Crosby: the Hymn Writer. ISBN 1-55748-731-6.
- Smith, Jane Stuart, and Carlson, Betty (1997). Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.
- The New York Institute for Special Education page on Fanny Crosby
- Fanny Crosby page at the Cyber Hymnal Words, MIDI & sheet music for over 500 hymns.
- Biography at Believers' Web
- Biographies at Wholesome Words
- Blessed Assurance music and lyrics
- ↑ NetHymnal (1996). "Van Alstyne, Mrs.".
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Osbeck, Amazing Grace, 206.
- ↑ Charles, Eleanor (August 30, 1992). "Westchester Guide: Fanny Crosby's Day". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/30/nyregion/westchester-guide-609692.html. Retrieved May 2, 2010. "Frances Jane Crosby was born in a Brewster farmhouse in 1820. While still an infant she was blinded when her mother was mistakenly advised to apply mustard plasters to her eyes to treat discharges caused by a cold."
- ↑ Graham, Billy, Unforgivable sin is not accepting forgiveness, Herald-Journal
- ↑ The Sunday-school world, Volume 40, Issue 8