Berean Bible Heritage Church
January 18, 2018; 11:39 pm
Jerusalem Time

Frances (Fanny) Jane Crosby

by Pastor Clinton Macomber


March 24, 1820, is Fanny Crosby's birthday. She is remembered for her prolific hymn writing. Although she was blinded at six weeks of age, "she determined not to be confined by the chains of darkness." In fact, she said:

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.

Her blindness came from a roaming quack doctor who put hot mustard compresses on her eyes when she had a cold with inflamed eyelids. They scarred her eyes, leaving her with blindness that the best of eye doctors could not cure.

Fanny Crosby once remarked, "If I had not lost my sight, I could never have written all the hymns God gave me."

Her first hymn was written at the request of William Bradbury, who thought she could write poetry, and had been looking for a poet to help him with an idea. On February 5, 1864, she gave him the poem, and he put it to music.

Fanny's spiritual development came from her grandmother who cared for her while her mother worked as a maid. Her dad died when she was 12 months old of an illness. A landlady, Mrs. Hawley helped Fanny memorize the Bible. Often she learned 5 chapters a week.

She entered the New York City Institution for the Blind around 1835, completed training, and taught there from 1847 to 1858. In 1858 she married a musician, Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also blind. Under her own name, as well as under a curious assortment of initials and pen names, she wrote over two thousand hymns, including:

  • “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” words
  • “I Am Thine, O Lord,” words
  • “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” words
  • “Praise Him, Praise Him,” words
  • “Rescue the Perishing,” words
  • “Saved by Grace,” words
  • “Stand Up for the Right,” words
  • “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” words
  • “To God Be the Glory,” words

Fanny wrote six or seven hymns a day, and was an excellent harpist, was one of the finest organists in New York, played the piano and had a lovely soprano voice. She appeared with Moody and Sankey and wrote her poems for hymns that would bring people to the Savior. She prayed that each hymn would be used of God.

When she was 23, she was the sightless guest of Congress. She gave tribute to Congress in verse and also to the Lord. There were several notables present who heard her. As a result she came to know all the presidents except George Washington.

Meeting her by chance, strangers broke down in tears of joy, remembering what her hymns had done for them.

Someone told me he found the small gravestone of Fanny Crosby, which was located in the same cemetery as the large monument to Barnum, the circus king. Crosby's said simply, "Aunt Fanny did what she could."

There is hardly a hymnbook in the English language that does not contain at least one hymn by Fanny Crosby.

She died February 12, 1915 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.


Uncredited information drawn from Glimpses issue 30. prepared by Ken Curtis, Beth Jacobson, Diana Severance, Ann T. Snyder, and Dan Graves of the Christian History Institute of Worcester, PA.

also the Christian Connection:

W. W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989). Php 1:12.

Quoted of Fanny Crosby taken from

K. W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990). Page 193.

J. D. Douglas, Who's Who in Christian History (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997, c1992).

Stephen Cox, "Theory, Experience And "The American Religion"" The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, electronic edition. (Garland, TX: Galaxie Software, 1998). 36/3 (September 1993 ) 371

F. Smith, Leading With Integrity : Competence With Christian Character, The pastor's soul series (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1999). Page 80.

J. D. Douglas, Who's Who in Christian History (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997, c1992).

John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology Setting Forth the Origin and History of Christian Hymns of All Ages and Nations Setting Forth the Origin and History of Christian Hymns of All Ages and Nations (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1892), 'Van Alstyne, Frances Jane' pp. 1203-1205. Provides the 2000 or more hymn number, but this was written while Miss Crosby was still alive. Others have added to this number, but we have not found a carefully indexed listing to prove the higher figures.

Ira D. Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns and of Sacred Songs and Solos (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Sunday School Times Company, 1907), photo was reworked from page 253.

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