Fanny Crosby

Topics: Fanny Crosby, Hymn, Phoebe Knapp Pages: 6 (2206 words) Published: May 2, 2013
Frances Jane Crosby (1820-1915)
There are plenty of notable female hymn writers throughout the turn of the century. They have all blessed us with their musical talents, poetic filled lyrics, and their encouraging songs of worship. In the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, female composers started to illustrate their musical talents. There were quite a few of famous female hymn writers but this person I took interest in quickly. Now I want to play a game called “Guess Who’s this Hymn Writer”. In the nineteenth century, I became the best-known female composer earning the rightful title “the most creative hymnist of the gospel song period”. By the end of the nineteenth century, I became a household name and a noticeable figure on the music scene. When you think of my name is to think about the gospel songs and to remember me as the blind poet who wrote “Blessed Assurance”, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”, “To God Be the Glory” and countless other classics. Who am I? Sixty miles north of New York City, the Croton River and its tributaries water the rugged hills of a narrow strip of land in eastern Putnam County, near the Connecticut border. Here Frances Jane Crosby, “America’s sweet singer in Israel”, was born 24 March 1820 in a small clapboard house built in 1758 and standing just back from Froggintown Road (Blumhofer, p.1). The only child of John and Mercy Crosby, Fanny Crosby was born into a humble home crowded with extended family. They boasted few worldly goods, but they cherished a rich family lore (Blumhofer, p.2). Her parents were poor but they came from sturdy New England ancestry. One of the ancestors was among the founders of Harvard University and several were graduates of that institution. Shortly after her birth, Fanny’s father died (Miller, p. 61). By late April, the Crosbys were alarmed. Something was wrong with baby’s eyes. In later years, Fanny spoke of a sickness that made her eyes “very weak”. More disconcerting, the family was unable to obtain competent medical assistance; the community doctor was away (Ruffin, p.12). Finally, they found a man who claimed to be a physician. Eighty-six years later, Fanny wrote of him as “a stranger”. Whoever he was, he horrified the Crosby’s by putting a hot poultice on the baby’s inflamed eyes. The “doctor” insisted the extreme heat would not hurt the child’s eyes and would draw out the infection. As the months went by, little Fanny Jane made no response when objects were held before her face. The “doctor” did not remain long in Southeast (Ruffin, p.13). Darlene Neptune’s book “Fanny Crosby Still Lives”, after all these years, Fanny found herself not being upset with him. She quoted: “But I have not for a moment, in more than ninety-four years, felt a spark of resentment against him because I have always believed from my youth to this moment that the good Lord, in Hid Infinite mercy, by this means consecrated me to the work that I am still permitted to do”(p.18). From the time it was apparent Fanny was blind, Mercy did not give up hope for a cure. After five years, aided by generous contributions from neighbors for miles around, she felt she had scarped up enough money to go to New York City to procure an appointment for Fanny to be examined by Dr. Valentine Mott, one of America’s finest surgeons, of Columbia University School of Medicine (Ruffin, 19.) But even the famous physician could offer no help. His examination brought the dreaded verdict that Crosby would never regain sight (Blumhofer, p.19). In 1834, Mercy Crosby learned that the New York state legislature had passed an act to provide stipends to enable blind students to enroll at the new Institution for the Blind in Manhattan. Education beckoned at last, and Crosby made up her mind to follow even though it meant life among strangers in the confusing exhilaration of New York City. Just sixty miles away, Manhattan was now only a day’s journey but still a world apart from the haunts of Fanny Crosby’s...
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