Fanny Crosby


Fanny Crosby : biography

March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915

Her hymns were published by many notable publishers and publishing companies:

  • William B. Bradbury published her hymns in his Golden Censer (1864),William Batchelder Bradbury, The Golden Censer: A Musical Offering to the Sabbath Schools, of Children’s Hosannas to the Son of David (William B. Bradbury, 1864). a book of Sunday School hymns that sold three million copies.W.K. McNeil, "Bradbury, William Batchelder", in Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, ed. W. K. McNeil (Routledge, 2005):48.
  • The successors to Bradbury’s publishing company, Biglow and Main; for several years Crosby was under contract to write three hymns a week for Biglow and Main,Neptune (2001), 91. and by 1889, it was estimated that Crosby had written over 2500 hymns for Bradbury, and Biglow and Main. In total, the company purchased 5900 poems from her for use in the Sunday School publications, and published nearly 2000 of them.
  • Methodist song publisher Philip Phillips, for whom Crosby wrote a cycle of forty poems based on the Pilgrim’s Progress, and the lyrics for an estimated 525 hymns.Crosby (1903), p. 93.

Musical and lyrical collaborators

Howard Doane was an industrialist who became Crosby’s principal collaborator in writing gospel music,"More Love To Thee by Elizabeth Prentiss (Hymn Story)", (Women of Christianity: February 18, 2011) composing melodies for an estimated 1,500 Crosby’s lyrics. Doane and Crosby collaborated through Biglow and Main, and also privately through Doane’s Northern Baptist endeavours.Blumhofer (2005), p. 196. Eventually Crosby entrusted to Doane the business aspects of her compositions.Blumhofer (2005), p. 308.

In early 1868 Crosby met millionaire Methodist Phoebe Palmer Knapp,Crosby (1906), p. 180. who was married to Joseph Fairchild Knapp, co-founder of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Joseph Fairchild Knapp, Second President (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company), The Knapps published hymnals initially for use in the Sunday School of the St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, which was superintended by Joseph F. Knapp for 22 years,Blumhofer (2005), p. 226. while Phoebe Knapp took responsibility for 200 children in the infants’ department."Women Hymn Writers", in Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, Vol. 1 (Indiana University Press, 2006):983. They first collaborated on Notes of Joy,Ruffin (1995), p. 96. the first hymnal edited by Knapp,Ellen Koskoff, 182. who also contributed 94 of the 172 tunes, and published by her brother Walter C. Palmer, Jr. in 1869.Knapp (1869) Of the 21 hymns Crosby contributed to Notes of Joy, including eight as "The Children’s Friend",Knapp (1869), pp. 8, 29, 34, 35, 54, 69, 93, 101. Knapp provided the music for fourteen of them. Their best-known collaboration was "Blessed Assurance", for which Crosby wrote words in the Knapps’ music room for a tune written by Knapp,Blumhofer (2005), p. 229. while Crosby was staying at the Knapp Mansion in 1873.

From 1871 to 1908, Crosby worked with Ira Sankey, who helped make her "a household name to Protestants around the world".Blumhofer (2005), p. 233. While Sankey was "the premier promoter" of gospel songs, "Crosby ranked first as their provider". The evangelistic team of Sankey and Dwight L. Moody brought many of Crosby’s hymns to the attention of Christians throughout the United States and Britain. Crosby was close friends with Sankey and his wife, Frances, and often stayed with them at their home in Northfield, Massachusetts from 1886 for the annual summer Christian Workers’ Conferences, and later in their Brooklyn. After Sankey’s eyesight was destroyed by glaucoma in March 1903,"IRA D. SANKEY IS BLIND. Slight Hope of Sight for the Singing Evangelist", The New York Times (March 20, 1903), their friendship deepened and they often continued to compose hymns together at Sankey’s harmonium in his home.Blumhofer (2005), pp. 333–334.