Christians You Should Know: Fanny Crosby April 5, 2023

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“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” – 1 John 3:2 

A Snapshot of the Life of Fanny Crosby:

Born: March 24, 1820 – Southeast, New York
Died: Feb. 12, 1915 – Bridgeport, Connecticut
Greatest hymn writer in the history of the Christian church. Fanny was blinded at six weeks old by a country doctors mistake. Her father died in the year of her birth, and in 1821, her mother moved to North Salem, NY. In 1830, at the age of ten, she could recite much Scripture. She attended the blind school in New York City as a pupil (1835-58) and teacher (1847-58). Crosby was converted Nov. 20, 1850 at John St. Methodist Church (Broadway Tabernacle) in New York City, where she was a lifelong member. Her first publication was The Blind Girl and Other Poems (1844), which included her first hymns. She also appeared before a joint session of Congress that same year. Fanny married Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind musician who played the piano and coronet, March 5, 1858 (died: 1902). Since her name was so well known, she rarely used his name. Her hymns were written from 1864 on. Meeting WILLIAM BRADBURY was a door opener for her talents. Fanny wrote “Blessed Assurance” “Rescue the Perishing, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus, “Saved by Grace,” “To God Be the Glory,” “Praise Him,” “Pass Me Not,” He Hideth My Soul,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “Near the Cross,'”‘The Cleansing Wave,” “Close to Thee,” “Redeemed,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,”‘Jesus Is Calling,” “Be Thou Exalted,” “Give Me Jesus,” “My Savior First of All,” “Savior More Than Life to Me,””‘Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” ”Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet,” ‘Tis
the Blessed Hour of Prayer,”‘To the Work,” “Will Jesus Find Us Watching,” “Never Give Up,” and over 7,000 more. She asked for only $2.00 per hymn and lived a frugal life, a far cry from the commercialism of this time. She could write little more than her name, so her husband, a friend Caroline Writer; or her secretary, Eva C. Cleareland, transcribed for her. Fanny wrote her last hymn, “In the Morn of Zion’s Glory, February 11, 1915, to comfort a neighbor’s family who lost a child. She died the next day. Her favorite Bible verse was I John 3:2.– (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

Fanny Crosby was a prolific hymn writer who was mightily used by God to share His Word through song. By most estimates, she wrote around 8,000 hymns in her lifetime. We have shared more about this amazing life in other hymn histories. Her songs are a wonderful gift to the people of God. 

One of the distinguishing marks of Fanny Crosby was her zeal to reach others with the Gospel. She encouraged others to come to Christ at every opportunity granted to her. As her fame spread, she still took time to share Christ with others. However, one of the most compelling aspects of her life was her refusal to see herself as a victim. If ever someone had a reason for self-pity, it was Crosby. 

This is best exemplified by a conversation she had with Pastor John Sweney:

John: “I think it is a great pity that the Master, when he showered so many gifts upon you, did not give you sight.” 

Fanny: Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition to my Creator, it would have been that I should be born blind?”

John: “Why?”

Fanny: “Because, when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” 

What a wonderful point of view and what a mighty example of contentment. The Apostle Paul wrote that  “…godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Fanny Crosby learned that abundant life is found only in Christ. Wishing for the circumstances to be different was not going to accomplish anything. Instead, she yielded her weakness and strengths to God, for Him to use.

Have you learned this lesson? Do you spend time complaining about how life has unfolded or are you seeking to discover God’s purpose and plan for your life? Reflect on the life of Fanny Crosby today, and allow her testimony to encourage you to wait on God. He can see what’s ahead, and He will guide you in His perfect way. 

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

More ETJ articles about this amazing woman can be found here.

Be Thou Exalted: The Life Story of Fanny J. Crosby – Fanny Crosby, 1901 (this is her official autobiography)

Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby – Edith L. Blumhofer, 2005

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1 Comment

  1. Raymond Ricard on April 5, 2023 at 9:43 PM

    Lord raise more spiritual woman like Fanny Crosby with 20 20 spiritual eyes sight for Thy glory sake.

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