Fanny Crosby – Blind Hymn Writer

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby

Noted Hymn Writer, Blind Since Youth, Lives To Age of Ninety-Five.

Was the Author Of More Religious Songs Than Any Other One Person.

Bridgeport, Conn., Feb 12. — Fanny Crosby, well known hymn writer, died today at her home in her ninety-fifth year.

Eight thousand hymns of Christian worship sung in Protestant churches throughout the world are the work of Fanny Crosby. No one since the days of Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts has made anywhere near as large a contribution to the gospel song book as did the blind writer.

Miss Crosby’s health had been failing for some time. Shortly before the end she became unconscious and remained so until death. At her bedside were her niece, Mrs. Henry Booth, and other members of the family, with whom she long had made her home.

In spite of feeble health Miss Crosby continued writing hymns up to a short time before her death.

Fanny Crosby’s name was signed so regularly as author of one hymn after another that the hymn book makers of a quarter century ago were forced to give her some 200 different pen names to make it appear that someone besides the famous writer had contributed. Thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands who sang her songs, which were translated into every language, did not know that it was a blind woman’s inspiration which they employed to express their Christian faith and hope in song.

“Saved by Grace,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Rescue the Perishing,” and “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” are typical of Fanny Crosby’s most popular religious verses. Of the latter Miss Crosby has related an incident showing the remarkable rapidity with which she employed her inspiration and her talents of versification.

Incident In Life.

W.H. Doane, who wrote the music for many of her verses, had called one morning at Miss Crosby’s home in New York.

“I must take a train to Cincinnati in forty minutes,” he said, “and I have some music for which I want you to write a hymn.”

“He sat down at the piano and played his music.

“I think I can write it, Mr. Doane,” I said.

“I hurried upstairs and sat down to write. For some time I was entirely oblivious of surroundings. When I came back to my full senses the hymn was written and was on paper before me. I learned that I had only taken fifteen minutes. Triumphantly I carried it down to Mr. Doane. The music he played then and the words that I had hurriedly written, are the same used today in singing “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.”

“It was my most successful hymn, and I believe it was dictated by the spirit of the Lord, and that it was born for a mission.”

Wrote Popular Melodies.

But Fanny Crosby did not begin hymn-writing until she was over 40 years of age. Fifty years ago she was best known for her popular melodies which were whistled all over the country, such as “Proud World Good-by, I’m Going Home,” “Hazel Dell,” “The Honeysuckle Glen,” and “Never Forget the Dear Ones.”

Born in Putnam county, New York state, March 24, 1820, christened Frances Jane Crosby, and married to Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind music teacher, who died many years ago, the blind writer lived to be almost 95 years old. Her mother had lived to be 102, and her grandmother to be 106. She retained to the last all her faculties — excepting eyesight. She lost this during a fever in infancy when a hot poultice was applied to her eyes, destroying the optic nerve.

At eight years the little girl displayed her first talent in versification by this philosophy of contentment:

Oh, what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don’t;
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot and I won’t.

For twelve years she studied at the New York Institution for the Blind. She never learned to read by the raised letters. Playing the guitar while a child she so calloused her fingers that they were not sensitive enough to read the raised characters. All she learned she memorized from hearing. During her connection with the institution, which included an additional twelve years as a teacher, she traveled all over the country declaiming her own verses. Before both houses of congress she once recited these special lines:

“O ye, who here from every state convene,
Illustrious band! may we not hope the scene
You now behold will prove to every mind
Instruction hath a ray to cheer the blind.

The Lincoln Daily Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) Feb 12, 1915

A Young Fanny Crosby (Image from

A Young Fanny Crosby (Image from

Fanny Crosby, the blind Methodist hymn writer, is now 70 years of age. She has written about 3000 Sunday school hymns, many of which are widely known. She was born at South East, N.Y., in 1823?, and lost her sight when six weeks old through the ignorant application of a warm poultice to he eyes. She has been an inmate of and teacher in the institution for the blind in New York since 1835. In 1858 she was married to Alexander Van Alstyne, a musician, who was also blind. Her first poem was published in 1831 and her first volume of verse, “A Blind Girl and Other Poems,” in 1834.

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Jul 27, 1894

More pictures and links to her hymns, go HERE.

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9 Responses to “Fanny Crosby – Blind Hymn Writer”

  1. Christian Oyike Says:

    May God bless her


  2. Mercy Marcel Says:

    Thank you for the LEGACY God used you to reserve for us. I pray to go through this journey so i can see you face to face.

  3. Rachel Duncan Says:

    To Miss Crosby and family,
    I’m sorry for the loss, but I thank you for the encouragement.
    My mother passed away March 2, 2005. She taught us in the way of song. I remember her washing dishes or doing the wash and singing the whole time. Thank you for the inspiration.

    In Christian Love
    Rachel Duncan

  4. Rachel Duncan Says:

    God has blessed you richly and guarded your heart.


    Thank you Miss Crosby for the inspirational hymns that you’ve left us.
    These are hymns that have lasted down through the ages , not like some of the modern ones today.
    Me and my husband from time to time take a Fanny Crosby evning in some of the local churches and it’s such a blessing for us and for them as we sing the good old hymns and tell your life story.
    Thank You for your God given gift.

  6. Gift karani Says:

    Sweet Fanny Crosby. Heaven knows i needed to read tHis. . & i believ i shall see you in the rapture some sweet day. Tagged in my heart:)

  7. oyekunle Says:

    may God bless her soul i quite appreciate all her effort even with the condition she find herself yet she did a wonderful work .i love all her songs .may God grant all us grace to impact our world.

  8. Bukola Says:

    Fanny can never die.

  9. Imhana Okhai IG Says:

    So inspiring, knowing that people like this have gone ahead, even without sight she never question GOD, rather was always happy in that state. How often we complain when little things are not working as we expect.

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