Fanny Crosby


Fanny Crosby : biography

March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915

Also during the American Civil War, Crosby wrote "Song to Jeff Davis", directed at Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, which expressed her belief in the morality of the Union cause: "Our stars and stripes are waving, And Heav’n will speed our cause".Blumhofer (2005), p. 95. Crosby also wrote "Good-By, Old Arm", a tribute to wounded soldiers with music by Philip Philips; "Our Country";For words, see Darlene Neptune, Fanny Crosby Still Lives (Pelican Publishing, 2002):67–68. and "A Tribute (to the memory of our dead heroes)".For words, see Darlene Neptune, Fanny Crosby Still Lives (Pelican Publishing, 2002):68–69.

As late as September 1908, Crosby wrote patriotic poems for the Daughters of the American Revolution,Blumhofer (2005), pp. 320–321. including "The State We Honor",For words, see Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine 35 (National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1909):51. that extolled the virtues of her adopted state of Connecticut.Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine 35 (National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1909):51, 704, 1080.

Later years (1900–1915)

Though her hymn writing declined in later years, Crosby was active in speaking engagements and missionary work among America’s urban poor almost until she died. She was well known and often met with presidents, generals, and other dignitaries. According to Blumhofer, "The popularity of Fanny Crosby’s lyrics as well as her winsome personality catapulted her to fame".Blumhofer (Hymnody, 2006), p. 215.

By May 1900 Crosby had been ill with a serious heart condition for a few months,Ruffin (1995), p. 193. and still showed some effects from a fall,"Fanny Crosby Still Living", The Pittsburg Press (July 10, 1904):28. which prompted her half-sisters to travel to Brooklyn to convince her to move from her room in the home of poet Will CarletonJames H. Ross, "Fanny Crosby", Boston Evening Transcript (March 18, 1905):26. in Brooklyn, New York to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to live with Julia "Jule" Athington, her widowed half-sister and Jule’s widowed younger sister, Caroline "Carrie" W. Rider.Crosby (1903), p. 183.Blumhofer (2005), pp. 319–320.Neptune (2001), p. 81. Soon after Crosby and Rider rented a room together,Blumhofer (2005), p. 320. before both moving to a rented apartment, where they lived until 1906. In 1904, after moving to Bridgeport, Crosby transferred her church membership from Cornell Memorial Methodist Church in Manhattan to the First Methodist Church of Bridgeport. On July 18, 1902, Crosby’s husband, who was living in Brooklyn, died. Crosby did not attend the funeral because of her poor health.Blumhofer (2005), p. 311 Phoebe Knapp paid for his burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Carleton controversy (1904–1905)

Some of Crosby’s wealthy friends, like Phoebe Knapp, Doane,Blumhofer (2005), p. 223. and Sankey,Blumhofer (2005), p. 213. contributed often to her financial needs, although Crosby still tended to give generously to those she saw as less fortunate than herself.Blumhofer (2005), p. 321. Even after Crosby submitted fewer lyrics to them, The Biglow and Main Company, Crosby’s long-time publisher, paid her a small stipend of $8 each week in recognition of her contributions to their business over the years.Blumhofer (2005), p. 325. However, Phoebe Knapp and others believed Biglow and Main had made enormous profits because of Crosby without compensating her adequately for her contributions, and that she should be living more comfortably in her advanced years.

Another wealthy friend of Crosby was popular American poet, author, and lecturer Will Carleton,Caryn Hannan, ed., "Carleton, Will", Michigan Biographical Dictionary: A-I, rev. ed. (North American Book Dist LLC, 1998):123–124. with whom Crosby had lived in her last years in Brooklyn, and who had been giving lectures on Crosby’s hymns and life, and had published a series of articles on Crosby in his Every Where magazine (which had a peak circulation of 50,000 copies a month) in 1901,Jerome A. Fallon, Will Carleton: Poet of the People (Xlibris, 2004), for which he paid her $10 an article.Amos Elwood Corning, Will Carleton: A Biographical Study (The Lanmere publishing co., 1917):75. In 1902 Carleton wrote a tribute to Crosby that was published in his Songs of Two Centuries.Will Carleton, Songs of Two Centuries (Harper, 1902):142f. At Knapp’s instigation, Carleton revised those articles and wrote Fanny Crosby’s Life-Story, a biography authorized initially by Crosby, which was published by July 1903, and reviewed favorably by The New York Times on July 25.Lillian Snow Kimball, "Fanny Crosby’s Life Story", Saturday Review of Books and Art, The New York Times (July 25, 1903):BR10, Carleton’s book sold for $1 a copy.Baptist Missionary Magazine 83 (American Baptist Missionary Union, 1903). This was the first full-length biographical account of Crosby’s life, although Robert Lowry had written a sixteen-page biographical sketch that was published in 1897 in her last book of poems, Bells of Evening and Other Verses. In the advertisement at the front of the book, the following statement from "the author" was signed with a facsimile of Crosby’s signature: "’Fanny Crosby’s Life-Story’ is published and sold for my benefit, and I hope by its means to be a welcome guest in many homes".Crosby (1903) Additionally, Carleton wrote:It is sincerely hoped by the publishers of this book may have as large a sale as possible, in order that the story of its loved author may be an inspiration to many people, and that she may be enabled to have a home of her own, in which to pass the remainder of her days.