Story Behind the Songwriter: Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby is a well-known hymn writer from the seventeenth century. A few of her popular hymns include ‘Blessed Assurance’ and ‘To God be the Glory’. Over the years I have come across many others she has written. In fact, it is estimated she wrote over 8,000 hymns!

Only recently I discovered that Ms Crosby was blind nearly her whole life. Whether it was a dangerous poultice applied to her eyes as a six-week-old or a genetic issue, Ms Crosby was deemed blind as a young baby. Yet blindness didn’t stop this remarkable lady from sharing God’s goodness through the many, many hymn lyrics and poems she wrote.

Even as a child, her writings tell us that she considered herself blessed despite her disability. When she was just nine years old she penned this poem:

O 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

Ms Crosby attended and later taught at a school for the blind. At the school she met her husband who was also blind and a musician. They married and had a child who sadly passed away at birth. Ms Crosby is quoted to have said about the tragedy, “I became a mother and knew a mother’s love. God gave us a tender babe but the angels came down and took our infant up to God and to His throne.” In her later years, it is said that she was often heard saying “Don’t waste sympathy on me, I’m the happiest person alive.

Why was she so content? Why did she count herself so ‘blessed’ as a nine-year-old and how did she overcome the difficulties of life and stay positive and hopeful? If you look into the thousands of hymn lyrics she wrote, you can clearly see the answer: Jesus.

In the song ‘Give me Jesus’ she wrote these lyrics:
‘Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Sweetest comfort of my soul;
With my Saviour watching o’er me,
I can sing though billows roll.
Take the world, but give me Jesus;
In His cross my trust shall be,
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see.’

Despite a life of hardship, Ms Crosby knew Jesus was all she needed. She understood the future glory that awaited her with Him. I hope the testimony of Fanny Crosby’s life has encouraged you as it has me. And let’s together follow her lead; let’s forgo the world and follow Jesus because it’s only with him and in him that we will find the strength to live with hope in the face of our hurts.