1820–1915
Fan­ny Cros­by

Introduction

portrait
Fanny in 1872

Born: March 24, 1820, Brew­ster, Put­nam Coun­ty, New York.

Died: Feb­ru­ary 12, 1915, Bridge­port, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Buried: Moun­tain Grove Ce­me­te­ry, Bridge­port, Con­nec­ti­cut. On her tomb­stone are the words, Aunt Fan­ny and Bless­ed as­sur­ance, Je­sus is mine. Oh, what a fore­taste of glo­ry di­vine. Bless­ed As­sur­ance, one of her best known songs, ap­peared in at least 937 hym­nals.

Biography

Fanny was the daugh­ter of John and Mer­cy Cros­by, and wife of or­gan­ist Al­ex­an­der Van Al­styne, who like her, was blind.

Though blind­ed by an in­com­pe­tent doc­tor at six weeks of age, she wrote ov­er 8,000 hymns. About her blind­ness, Fan­ny 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.

One of the most pro­lif­ic hymn writ­ers in his­to­ry, in her life­time Fan­ny was one of the best known wo­men in the Unit­ed States. To this day, the vast ma­jo­ri­ty of Am­er­ican hym­nals con­tain her work.

On her 85th birth­day, Am­er­ican pre­si­dent Gro­ver Cleve­land wrote to Fan­ny:

My dear friend:

It is more than fif­ty years ago that our ac­quaint­ance and friend­ship be­gan; and ev­er since that time I have watched your con­tin­uous and in­ter­es­ted la­bor in up­lift­ing hu­ma­ni­ty, and point­ing out the way to an ap­pre­ci­ation of God’s good­ness and mer­cy.

Though your la­bors have, I know, brought you abun­dant re­wards in your con­scious­ness of good ac­comp­lished, those who have known of your works and sym­pa­thized with your no­ble pur­pos­es owe it to them­selves that you are ap­prized of their re­mem­brance of these things. I am, there­fore, ex­ceed­ing­ly gra­ti­fied to learn that your eigh­ty-fifth birth­day is to be ce­le­brat­ed with a dem­on­stra­tion of this re­mem­brance. As one proud to call you an old friend, I de­sire to be ear­ly in con­gra­tu­lat­ing you on your long life of use­ful­ness, and wish­ing you in the years yet to be add­ed to you, the peace and com­fort born of the love of God.

Yours ve­ry since­re­ly,
Grover Cleve­land

Works

Jerusalem

I stood upon the mount, called Ol­iv­et,
The spot where once the bless­ed Sav­ior sat;
And from His lips di­vine­ly flowed
Accents of mer­cy, to a fall­en race.
The sun had sunk be­neath the crim­son west,
And night, around its dusky man­tle threw.
All—all was still—and as mine eyes sur­veyed
The ru­ins of that ci­ty, once so fair,
I wept; and half un­con­scious, from my lips,
Broke forth these scat­tered thoughts—

Jerusalem!
How like that glo­ri­ous orb, thou once wert love­ly!
But, alas! how changed thy glo­ry is
A night of deep­er gloom en­shrouds thee now.
Here once, mag­ni­fi­cent, a tem­ple stood,
And Israel’s God was wor­shipped and adored;
But where that tem­ple now? Oh, not one stone
Is left, to mark the spot where once it stood.
Jehovah’s name, by hea­then lips blas­phemed,
And Is­ra­el, once a migh­ty na­tion strong,
O’er all the earth dis­persed—a scat­tered few—
Shunned, and des­pised, alas! in ex­ile roam;
Ill-fated ci­ty, ’twas thy crimes alone,
That hurled up­on thy head this mis­ery!

Would thou hadst known, in thy pros­per­ity,
The things that to thy peace be­longed
But now, they from thine eyes are hid.

Oh! thou hast slain the Lord’s anoint­ed Sav­ior of thy race,
And thou hast said, His blood on us and on our child­ren be.
Yet, there is hope for thee, Je­ru­sa­lem!
Weep o’er thy sins, and to thy God re­turn;
Believe Messiah has al­rea­dy come,
And plead the merits of His par­don­ing blood.

Fanny Crosby
The Blind Girl, 1844

Poem

Eliza Hew­itt wrote this po­em, read at Fan­ny’s fun­er­al:

Away to the country of sunshine and song,
Our songbird has taken her flight,
And she who has sung in the darkness so long
Now sings in the beautiful light;
The harp-strings here broken are sweet­ly re­strung
To ring in a chorus sub­lime;
The hymns that on earth she so trust­ful­ly sung
Keep tune with eternity’s chime!

What heart can conceive of the rap­ture she knows
Awakened to glories so bright,
Where radiant splendor un­ceas­ing­ly glows,
Where cometh no shadows of night!
Her life-work is ended’ and ov­er the tide,
Redeemed in His pre­sence to stand,
She knows her Re­deem­er, for her cru­ci­fied,
By the print of the nails in His hand.

Blessed Assurance—the lamp in her soul
That made earth­ly mid­night as naught!
A New Song of joy shall un­ceas­ing­ly roll
To Him who her ran­som had bought.
To Rescue the Per­ish­ing, her great­est de­light,
What bliss, in the Home­land, to meet
With those she has told of the Lord’s sav­ing might,
Together, to bow at His feet.

Good-bye, dear­est Fan­ny, good­bye for a while,
You walk in the sha­dows no more;
Around you, the sun­beams of glo­ry will smile;
The Lamb is the Light of that Shore!
Someday we will meet in the Ci­ty above;
Together, we’ll look on His face;
Safe, Safe in the Arms of the Je­sus we love;
Together we’ll sing, Saved by Grace!

Rothwell, p. 47

Pseudonyms

For more in­for­ma­tion on Fan­ny’s pseu­do­nyms, see Cros­by, page 627, and Jack­son, page 25.

*Jackson, page 25. If a set of lyr­ics is at­trib­ut­ed to Mrs. J. B. Thresh­er, the au­thor may be Fan­ny Cros­by, or may be Sar­ah Bliss Thresh­er.

Sources

Lyrics