Vintage Saints – Fanny Crosby

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American hymn writer Fanny Crosby was born on March 24, 1820, to John and Mercy Crosby. At six weeks old, she caught a cold and developed inflammation of the eyes. A botched procedure to treat the inflammation left her blind. A life-long Methodist, Crosby is reputed to have written some 8000 hymns, many of which are mainstays of today’s American hymnals.

Recommended reading:

Fanny J. Crosby: An Autobiography
by Fanny J. Crosby

From the publisher:

Frances Jane Crosby (1820-1915), usually known as Fanny Crosby, was an American lyricist best known for her Protestant Christian hymns. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 hymns, despite being blind from shortly after birth. Also known for her preaching and 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 “Blessed Assurance,” “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home,” “Praise Him, Praise Him,” and “To God Be the Glory.” Since some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 100 different pseudonyms during her career.

Fanny Crosby entered what was then known as the New York Institution for the Blind at the age of fifteen and afterward taught English and history (1847-58).

As a pupil and as a teacher, Fanny spent 35 years at the school. She was often asked to entertain visitors with her poems, and she frequently met with presidents, generals and other dignitaries. She was asked to play at President Grant’s funeral. Her first book of poems, published in 1844, was called The Blind Girl and Other Poems.

After leaving the school, she dedicated her life to serving the poorest and the neediest. Supporting herself by her writing, she quickly gained fame for her hymns. Her usual fee was a mere two dollars which frequently went to her work with the poor. Her mission work is legendary as is her devotion to serving others above herself.

Long unavailable, this is the story (originally published in 1906 as Memories of Eighty Years) of a remarkable life, told by Miss Crosby herself.

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