Thursday, July 14, 2011
Fanny Crosby - A Far Reaching Influence
Few people realize the extent of Fanny Crosby's work, as she has the astonishing number of eight thousand religious poems to her credit! Fanny Crosby was born in New York in 1820. At age six weeks of age she lost her eyesight when a local physician applied hot pultices, which resulted in her blindness. The popular indignation when this malpractice became known flamed so hot that the ill-educated doctor hurriedly left town for parts unknown.
Fanny, herself, however, as she grew into girlhood, harbored no trace of resentment against him. She accepted her lot cheerfully, as a part of the will of God for her.
Her natural buoyancy of disposition reinforced her Christian faith.
"Blindness," she wrote in later life, "can not keep the sunlight of hope from the trustful soul. One of the easiest resolves that I formed in my young and joyous heart was to leave all care to yesterday, and to believe that the morning would bring forth its own peculiar joy."
As a young girl, Fanny would sit, evening after evening at twilight, on a favorite big brown rock and drink in the sounds of birds, crickets and the near-by waterfall, imagining the hues of the sky and softly repeating to herself all the verses of the Bible that came to her well stocked mind. The scene is a prophecy of the Christian poet that she became.
When a renowned physician said "Child, you can never be made to see, Fanny's mother became grief-stricken, but not the young child. In that mood was born her first poem, written when she was eight years old:
Oh! what a happy soul I am!
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 nor I won't.
To gain an education now became her consuming ambition. At the age of fifteen, she was admitted to the New York Institute for the Blind and a new chapter in her life was begun.
Not until the age of 31 did she have that vital assurance of Christ's love and God's pardon that she called her conversion.
One night in a vivid dream, a warm friend of hers, who seemed to be dying, asked her, "Will you meet me in heaven?" It did not matter to find, on waking, that the friend was in sound health. The question had set her to thinking deeply. Shortly after she and her companions were singing, "Alas! and did my Saviour bleed" and as they came to the line, "Here, Lord, I give myself away," she definitely offered herself to God and a flood of light and joy ensued. She joined the Old John Street Methodist church. This experience became determinative of her inner life, of her lifework, and of the sentiment of her hymns.
And as goes the old saying " the rest they say, is history."
Fanny Crosby's songs form an appropriate atmosphere for evangelistic preaching ... they produce conviction of sin and conversion. Of their far-reaching influence, only eternity can give the details.
Shut in from the distracting sights of the outer world, she has seen deeply into eternal truth and has put that truth into verse that has influenced countless thousands of lives.
Her songs have survived because of her Christian message.