FANNY JANE CROSBY
At 9 years old, Fanny wrote:
Oh what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be.
So many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t;
To weep and sigh because I’m blind ..
I cannot and I won’t!
At six weeks old, when in need of medical attention for an eye condition, an on-call physician, while her own physician was away, treated her with hot poultices that destroyed her eyesight. It was discovered after the fact, that this practitioner was practicing illegally. After the shock of this occurence and as time went by, however, Fanny’s mother wisely went about making sure that Fanny learned self-respect, self-reliance, pride in her accomplishments and passages of poetry from John Milton, a blind poet. Fanny, with her sharp mind, memorized the poems.
Fanny’s godly grandmother who lived with the family since she was born, was a key figure in Fanny’s life. She walked her through woods with the scent of pine, fields, fresh with daisies and vividly described God’s creations to her. She taught Fanny from the Book of Ruth, Psalms, Proverbs, the New Testament as well as reading stories from the Old Testament. Again, Fanny memorized verses from the Bible. It was her grandmother who instilled in her, a will to be content in her compromised situation. At 9 years old, Fanny wrote the above words or resolve in poetry!
So many times, when I heard the music to or read the lyrics of a beautiful hymn for the first time, I thought, to myself: ‘I wonder who wrote that hymn!’ Wouldn’t you know it! The writer was Fanny Crosby! She has written the lyrics and/or music to such beautiful songs as, Blessed Assurance, Near the Cross, Draw Me Nearer, Safe In the Arms of Jesus and Rescue the Perishing. Multiple composers sought her talent specifically to write lyrics for their melodies. All in all, she wrote about 6000 songs.
Fanny Crosby attended the New York Institute for the Blind: this was her one dream and a dream realized as well. While there, an outbreak of cholera occured and sadly, some of her classmates died. God’s healing hand was upon Fanny, though ~ when she began to experience symptoms, she took the treatment recommended and prayed earnestly that she would be spared… the Lord healed her: she did not develop cholera. After graduation, she was appointed as teacher at the Institute and worked there for 11 years.. At the age of 31, she consecrated her life to the Lord…that is when she began writing gospel hymns and working in missions. She met a blind scholar, Alexander Van Alstune, who was also a teacher: they married and spent 44 years together. Fanny passed at age 94…a life of faith, service, prayer and love for God and humanity ~ well lived.
A stanza from one of her songs:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation – Purchase of God
Born of His Spirit – Washed in His blood
Jesus, keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream flows from Calvary’s mountain
In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever
Till my raptured soul shall find, rest beyond the river.
A quote from the blind song writer, (as she referred to herself) after a minister wished for her that she had been born with sight, among her many other gifts: “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?” “Why?” asked the surprised clergyman. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!”
Bibliography: Wholesome Words, Christian Biography Resources
© July 2014 Carol A. Castagna
ROMANS 8: 28 AND WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, TO THOSE WHO ARE THE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.
PSALM 91: 2 I WILL SAY OF THE LORD, “HE IS MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS,
MY GOD, IN HIM WILL I TRUST.”