Referred to as the Queen of American hymn writers, Frances Jane (Fanny) Crosby wrote multitudes of poems that were put to music for hymns. Christian History magazine reported that if 15 hymnals were stacked atop one another, that’s about the number of hymns Fanny wrote.
Fanny’s firm foundation was planted by her grandmother, Eunice Crosby, who cared for Fanny while her mother worked. Her father had died and left her mother, Mercy, widowed at 21. Grandma Eunice helped develop Fanny’s descriptive abilities by reading her the Bible. You see, Fanny, born March 24, 1820, became blind as a baby from a doctor’s mistreatment of her eye infection.
Her grandmother always emphasized the power of prayer. When Fanny was saddened because she couldn’t learn as other children did, her grandmother taught her to pray to God for knowledge.
Her landlady helped develop Fanny’s memory with the use of the Bible. Fanny memorized five chapters a week. She could recite entire books of the Bible. She said her blindness had forced her to increase her powers of concentration and memory.
Fanny graduated from the NY Institute for the Blind, where she met her husband, Alexander van Alstine, an organist. Fanny could play the harp and piano and sang soprano.
Her true vocation was writing hymns. Her aim was to bring the Gospel message to people who wouldn’t listen to sermons. Whenever she wrote a hymn, she prayed God would use it for that purpose.
Fanny wrote six or seven poems a day, though her business agreement with Bigelow and Main company was to write three a week for use in Sunday school publications. Someone else composed the tunes. As an old woman Fanny played music from classical works to ragtime. She often jazzed up the old hymns.
Some hymns Fanny wrote the words to are: "Blessed Assurance," "To God Be the Glory," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior," and "I Am Thine, O Lord." She died at age 95.