Decades later, new hymns by Fannie Crosby found
Published 2:08 am Saturday, November 14, 2015
“This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.” These words come from one of my favorite hymns, Blessed Assurance.
Francis Jane Crosby wrote the lyrics to Blessed Assurance, Saved by Grace, To God Be the Glory, Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, Redeemed, Safe in the Arms of Jesus and thousands of other hymns. What makes this prolific songwriter’s life so remarkable is that she lost her eyesight as an infant in 1820. A doctor’s treatment of her eye inflammation caused her blindness.
According to biographers, she memorized entire books of the Bible that her grandmother read aloud to her when Crosby was growing up. This wealth of Scripture knowledge no doubt helped her pen more than 8,000 hymns.
“Blindness cannot keep the sunlight of hope from the trustful soul,” she wrote later in life. In the second stanza of Blessed Assurance, Crosby wrote, “Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.” Her spiritual insight helped her overcome her lack of physical sight. Crosby lived the words of 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” She is reported to have said that if she could meet the doctor whose treatment caused her blindness she would thank him.
Crosby wrote her first poem at age eight. At age 15, she was admitted to the New York Institute for the Blind where she was a student for 12 years and a teacher for 11 years. Distinguished visitors, such as poet William Cullen Bryant and Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay, came to her school. A young Grover Cleveland, future U.S. president, worked at the school. She survived a cholera outbreak while a student. At age 23, she addressed Congress.
In 1858, she married a blind teacher at the Institute. He, too, enjoyed music, and he encouraged her to continue writing hymns in her maiden name, widely known from hymnbooks containing her words. A year after their wedding, they lost their only child shortly after the baby was born. The couple was married 44 years until his death in 1902.
Fanny Crosby, as she is known, died in 1915. The archives of Hope Publishing, the music company that published her hymns, were eventually given to Wheaton College in Illinois.
Several years ago, a musical treasure was discovered. Forgotten and hidden away in storage were 2,700 more hymns written by Crosby.
Now, 100 years after her death, an artist and writer named Stephen Kelley, along with Integrity Music has released a new CD titled Blessed Assurance, the New Hymns of Fanny Crosby.
During her lifetime, Fanny Crosby’s words were set to music by several different composers. A century later, present-day composers have set her lost treasure of words to music. Various Gospel artists such as Ricky Skaggs, Michael W. Smith, The Blind Boys of Alabama and others sing these newly-discovered words. Hopefully, this new generation will listen to these songs and continue the legacy of Fanny Crosby.
Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com.