Death of Hymnwriter Fanny Crosby
ON THIS DATE, 12 February l9l5, Fanny Crosby died at the age of ninety-five. Blind from an early age, she left behind thousands of hymns, many of which remain favorites of the church.
Francis Jane Crosby was born in New York on 24 March 1820. As a baby, she contracted an eye infection. A quack doctor treated her by placing hot poultices on her inflamed eyelids, resulting in scarring that left her blind.
Fortunately for her, a godly neighbor, Mrs. Hawley, taught her large portions of scripture. Her grandmother also encouraged her to appreciate the physical world around her through her senses of touch, hearing and smell. She could identify birds by their songs and trees by their leaves. Crosby’s grandmother explained the Bible to her and emphasized the importance of prayer. When Crosby became depressed because she could not learn as other children did, her grandmother taught her to pray to God for knowledge.
Crosby had a gift for rhyme. When only eight she wrote this verse:
Oh, what a happy child 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!
So weep or sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot—nor I won’t.
Through her Christian upbringing, she learned that she could be useful in spite of her sightlessness. However, she did not truly yield her heart to Christ until she attended a camp meeting when she was thirty.
Afterward she said the Lord assured her he had a work for her, and that work was hymn writing. She soon met William Bradbury, a leading composer of Christian hymn tunes, and began writing furiously. The results of her labor were vast: Crosby wrote the equivalent of about fifteen hymnals. Among her most famous hymns are “Blessed Assurance,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “To God be the Glory,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross,” “I am Thine, O Lord,” “A Wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,” “Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus our Blessed Redeemer,” and many more.
When Crosby died on this day she did so in the expectation of seeing face to face the Savior who had brought light to her many years of earthly darkness.