1820–1915
Fan­ny Cros­by
portrait

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

Feb­ru­a­ry 12, 1915, Bridge­port, Con­nec­ti­cut.

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.

portrait
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Fanny & Hubert Main
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Fanny & Ira Sankey

One of the most pro­lif­ic hym­nists in his­to­ry, Fan­ny was the 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.

In her life­time, Fan­ny Cros­by was one of the best known wo­men in the Unit­ed States. To this day, the vast ma­jor­i­ty of Am­er­i­can hym­nals con­tain her work.

Her se­cu­lar works in­clude:

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

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

illustration

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

Pseudonyms (see Crosby, p. 627, and Jack­son, p. 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.