Fanny Crosby

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Fanny Crosby : biography

March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915

Frances Jane Crosby (March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915), usually known as Fanny Crosby in the United States and by her married name, Frances van Alstyne, in the United Kingdom, was an American Methodist rescue mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. During her lifetime, she was well known throughout the United States. By the end of the 19th century, she was "a household name"Morgan (2003), p. 183. and "one of the most prominent figures in American evangelical life". She became blind while an infant.

Best known for her Protestant Christian hymns and gospel songs, Crosby was "the premier hymnist of the gospel song period",Susan E. Warrick, "Crosby, Fanny", in Historical Dictionary of Methodism, eds. Charles Yrigoyen, Susan Eltscher Warrick. 2nd ed. (Scarecrow Press, 2005):87. and one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000,One source indicates at least 8,440. See Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns: The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, 3rd. ed. (General Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church by Eden Pub. House, 1954):613.Osbeck, Amazing Grace, 206. with over 100 million copies of her songs printed.Don Hawkinson, Character for Life: An American Heritage: Profiles of Great Men and Women of Faith who Shaped Western Civilization, (New Leaf Publishing Group, 2005):35 Crosby was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1975."Frances Jane Crosby (Fanny Crosby) 1820–1915", Known as the "Queen of Gospel Song Writers",The Hymn 35 (Hymn Society of America, 1984):222. and as the "Mother of modern congregational singing in America","Fanny Crosby", (LANDMARKS PRESERVATION SOCIETY of Southeast, Inc.), (February 11, 2010), with "dozens of her hymns continu[ing] to find a place in the hymnals of Protestant evangelicalism around the world",Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (Church Publishing, Inc., 2010):216–217. with most American hymnals containing her work, as "with the possible exception of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, Crosby has generally been represented by the largest number of hymns of any writer of the twentieth century in nonliturgical hymnals".Wilhoff (2005), p. 92. Her gospel songs were "paradigmatic of all revival music", and Ira Sankey attributed the success of the Moody and Sankey evangelical campaigns largely to Crosby’s hymns.Anne Commire and Deborah Klezmer, Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, (Yorkin Publications, 2000):220. Some of Crosby’s best-known songs include "Blessed Assurance", "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour", "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home", "Praise Him, Praise Him", "Rescue the Perishing", and "To God Be the Glory". Because some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 200 different pseudonyms during her career.Hall (1914), p. 41.For a list of 98 of her pseudonyms, see "Frances Jane Crosby (Fanny Crosby) 1820–1915", source indicates she used approximately 250 pseudonyms. See Darlene Neptune, Fanny Crosby Still Lives (Pelican Publishing, 2002):91.

Crosby wrote over 1,000 secular poems,Ruffin (1995), p. 50. and had four books of poetry published, as well as two best-selling autobiographies. Additionally, Crosby co-wrote popular secular songs, as well as political and patriotic songs, and at least five cantatas on biblical and patriotic themes, including The Flower Queen, the first secular cantata by an American composer. Crosby was committed to Christian rescue missions, and was known for her public speaking.

Early career (1843–1858)

After graduation from the NYIB in 1843, Crosby joined a group of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. arguing for support of education for the blind. Crosby was the first woman to speak in the United States Senate when she read a poem there.Hall (1914), p. 38. When Crosby appeared before the joint houses of Congress, she recited these lines: