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Frances Jane Crosby

Fanny CrosbyFanny Jane Crosby (Mrs. Van Alstyne), is the most prolific and perhaps the most popular writer of Sunday school hymns that America has ever produced. She was born at South East, Putnam County, N. Y., March 24, 1820. When only six weeks old she lost her eyesight. Her first poem was written when she was only eight years old. At the age of fifteen she entered the Institution for the Blind in New York City, where she spent seven years as a pupil and eleven years (1847-58) as a teacher. In 1844 she published a volume entitled The Blind Girl and Other Poems, and in 1849 Monterey and Other Poems. In 1851 she was happily converted, and united with the Old John Street Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1858 she was married to Mr. Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also, like herself, blind, had been a teacher in the Institution, and was possessed of rare musical talent, and thus eminently fitted to be a congenial and helpful life companion. As a hymn writer, however, she has continued since her marriage to bear her maiden name. A third volume of her poems was issued the year of her marriage: A Wreath of Columbia's Flowers, 1858. She was in the employ of Mr. William B. Bradbury for the last four years before he died, and she was for some years regularly employed by Biglow and Main to write "three hymns a week the year round." She has written about six thousand hymns, considerably less than half of which number have been published. In 1898 she published Bells at Evening and Other Poems, and in 1906, Memories of Eighty Years. Revered, honored, and loved by millions, she resides at Bridgeport, Conn., being at this writing (1911) ninety-one years of age. Fanny Crosby's hymns and the tunes to which they are sung have a peculiar charm for the young and for the masses of the people. There are thousands of religious homes where her sweet and simple songs are sung daily, and are scarcely less familiar than the words of Scripture. In sunshine and darkness alike and in all lands her songs are sung "with a glad heart and free." Few women that have ever lived can claim a higher honor than belongs to Fanny Crosby in being permitted to witness the world-wide popularity of so many of her hymns.

—Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
—Pass me not, O gentle Saviour
—Rescue the perishing
—Saviour, more than life to me
—Thou, my everlasting portion

From The Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church: An Annotated Edition of the Methodist Hymnal by Charles S. Nutter and Wilbur F. Tillet. New York: Eaton & Main, 1911.

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