Writing under more than one hundred fictitious names throughout her career because most Publishers were hestitant to have several songs by the same author in their hymnals, and blind since infancy due to a botched eye treatment performed by a “quack” when she was six weeks old, American Lyricist Frances Jane Crosby was one of the most prolific hymnists in history.
Born in Putnam County New York in the lower Hudson River Valley, raised by her Mother and Grandmother, who she was especially close to, and well grounded in Protestant Christian principles, Crosby was taught to memorize long Bible passages, dedicated her life to Jesus, learned to play the piano and guitar, taught English grammar, American and Roman history, and rhetoric at the New York Institute For Special Education she had attended between her fifteenth and twenty-first years of age, was married to fellow blind musician and schoolteacher Alexander Van Alstyne for more than forty years, had a daughter named Francis, their only child, that died as a baby, and wrote more than eight thousand well known hymns including such songs as “There’s A Cry From Macedonia,” her first hymn, written on February 5, 1864 at the Ponton Hotel on Franklin Street in New York City, “To God Be The Glory,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home,” “Praise Him, Praise Him,” “Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,” “All The Way My Savior Leads Me,” “I Am Thine O Lord,” “Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” “Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,” “Draw Me Nearer,” and “Rescue The Perishing”.
Buried in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame since 1975, Crosby wrote hymns for such noted Composers as William B. Bradbury who composed the song “Jesus Loves Me,”, song-evangelist Philip P. Bliss, Hubert Platt Main who is best known for the hymn “Hold Thou My Hand,” Robert Lowry who composed the hymn “Shall We Gather At The River,” William Howard Doane, the Ohio Baptist Convention Ministers and Society For the Midwest President, Ira D. Sankey who was regarded as the Sweet Singer of Methodism, William Fiske Sherwin who composed the music known as “Evening Praise,” sacred choral writer Phoebe Knapp famous for the hymn “Nearer The Cross,” American Civil War songwriter George Frederick Root who is best known for the hymn “Jesus Loves The Little Children,” John Robert Sweney who wrote the hymn “Beulah Land,” William J. Kirkpatrick who wrote the Christmas carol “Away In A Manger,” and the hymn “Jesus Saves (We Have Heard The Joyful Sound),” Hart Pease Danks who wrote the hymn “Jesus Lover Of My Soul,” and Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Benjamin Carl Unseld who is best known for the musical piece “Twilight Is Stealing”. Crosby also played the hymn “Safe In The Arms Of Jesus” at President Ulysses S. Grant’s funeral on August 8, 1885.
Crosby wrote the words to many popular songs of her day including “The Honeysuckle Glen,” “Rosalie, the Prairie Flower,” “Hazel Dell,” “Music In The Air,” “Proud World, Good-bye, I’m Going Home,” “Never Forget The Dear Ones,” “All Together,” “The Pilgrim Fathers Cantata” and “The Flower Queen Cantata”. Crosby was also the first woman to read a poem in the United States Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C.
Among her many hymns Crosby also wrote four volumes of verses entitled “The Blind Girl, And Other Poems,” “Monterey, And Other Poems,” “A Wreath Of Columbia’s Flowers,” and “Bells At Evening And Other Verses”.
Quoted as saying “When I die the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Savior,” Crosby was thankful for her blindness because she felt it contributed significantly to her greater spiritual gifts.
This Article was compiled from several websites that provide much more information about Fanny Crosby including: