Believe it or not there are churches that still sing old fashioned hymns such as “Blessed Assurance.” Whenever I sing a hymn, I like to pay attention to the writer. I think because I myself write poetry and songs, it interests me to know who wrote my favorite songs. For a long time I have been impressed with Fanny Jane Crosby. As I have grown up in churches and listened to hymns since I was a child, I have noticed that she wrote many of the hymns I have sung. I was curious to know more about her life and I find it interesting.
Fanny Jane Crosby was born in South East, New York and lived from March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915. As you can see, she lived a long life. Crosby was blind since infancy, but it in no way stopped her from living a full life. It is said that she recorded over 8000 hymns. I have a hard time imagining such a number especially considering she did not write her first hymn until she was 41. She developed her writing skills at the New York City of the Blind. Crosby was also a teacher there of English grammar, rhetoric, and Roman and American history.
Fanny J. Crosby married her musician husband who was also blind, in 1858. He was a professor at the school where she taught. She wrote her first hymn for William B. Bradbury. Crosby felt she had found her true calling in life. It was said she had as many as 200 pen names so that the public would not know she wrote so many of the hymns appearing in hymnals. Crosby was an active member of the historic John Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The church first opened in 1768.
Fanny Cosby’s most famous hymn may be “Blessed Assurance.” The hymn has been recorded by various artists and it was included in the book “The History of Hymn Singing as told through One Hundred & One Famous Hymns.” “Blessed Assurance” is a hymn that has touched my heart. I like to make her words mine as I sing this wonderful hymn. Two other hymns that have a lot of meaning for me are “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” and “To God Be the Glory.” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” was recorded by one of my favorite Christian artists Rich Mullins.
I am really impressed by the life of Fanny Crosby and by her many wonderful hymns. From all accounts she lived a wonderfully full life and what a great way to make a living by writing hymns such as “Blessed Assurance.” Her faith shines through her vast library of hymns. Her life and hymns inspire me.
“The History of Hymn Singing as told through One Hundred & One Famous Hymns.” Charles Johnson, Hallberg Publishing Corporation, Delevan, Wisconsin, 1983.