Fanny Crosby


Fanny Crosby : biography

March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915

After speaking at a service at the Manhattan prison in spring 1868,Neptune (2001), p. 100. Crosby was inspired to write "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour" after comments by some prisoners for the Lord not to pass them by, with Doane setting it to music and publishing it in Songs of Devotion in 1870."Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior", "Pass Me Not" became her first hymn to have global appeal, after it was used by Ira Sankey in is crusades with Moody in Britain in 1874.Blumhofer (2005), p. 256. Sankey said, "No hymn was more popular at the meetings in London in 1875 [sic] than this one.Ira Sankey,

In April 1868 Crosby wrote "Fifty Years Ago" for the semi-centennial of the New-York Port Society, which was founded in 1818 "for the promotion of the Gospel among the seamen in the Port of New-York"."The New-York Port Society", The New York Times (April 3, 1868),

By July 1869 Crosby was attending at least weekly meetings organized by the interdenominational New York City Mission, After a young man was converted through her testimony, Crosby was inspired to write the words for "Rescue the Perishing" based on a title and a tune given to her by William Howard Doane a few days earlier.Crosby (1906), p. 145"Rescue the Perishing", In his 1907 book My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns, Ira Sankey recalled the origins of "Rescue the Perishing": Fanny Crosby returned, one day, from a visit to a mission in one of the worst districts in New York City, where she had heard about the needs of the lost and perishing. Her sympathies were aroused to help the lowly and neglected, and the cry of her heart went forth in this hymn, which has become a battle-cry for the great army of Christian workers throughout the world. It is been used very extensively in temperance work, and has been blessed to thousands of souls.Ira D. Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns (1907):258–259,


In 1880, at the age of sixty, Crosby "made a new commitment to Christ to serve the poor",Burger (1997), p. 86. and to devote the rest of her life to home missionary work. Crosby continued to live in a dismal flat at 9 Frankfort Street, near one of the worst slums in Manhattan, until about 1884.Ruffin (1995), pp. 132, 158. From this time Crosby increased her involvement in various missions and homes. During the next three decades, Crosby would dedicate her time as "Aunty Fanny" to work at various city rescue missions, including the McAuley Water Street Mission, the Bowery Mission, the Howard Mission, the Cremore Mission, the Door of Hope, and other skid row missions. Additionally, Crosby spoke at YMCAs, churches, and prisons about the needs of the urban poor.Burger (1997), p. 87. Additionally, Crosby was a passionate supporter of Frances Willard and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and its endeavors to urge either abstinence or moderation in the use of alcohol.Blumhofer (2005), p. 286. For example, before 1879 Crosby wrote the words for the song "The Red Pledge",George W. Ewing, The Well-Tempered Lyre: Songs & Verse of the Temperance Movement (Southern Methodist University Press, 1977):123. which advocated total abstinence from imbibing alcohol.Blumhofer (2005), p. 294.

From about 1880, Crosby attended and supported the Helping Hand for Men (better known as the Water Street Mission),Blumhofer (2005), p. 291. "America’s first rescue mission", in Manhattan, which was founded to minister to alcoholics and the unemployed by a former prostitute, Maria and Jeremiah "Jerry" McAuley, a former alcoholic, thief, and convict who had become a Christian in Sing Sing prison in 1864.Duane V. Maxey, ed. The Story of Jerry McAuley, His Conversion, Establishment in Grace, and His Water Street Mission Work By Jerry McAuley (Holiness Data Ministry, 2000):7, Watner, "The Most Generous Nation on Earth: Voluntaryism and American Philanthropy", The Voluntaryist 61 (April 1993):4, Crosby often attended the Water Street Mission, "conversing and counseling with those she met".