Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fanny J. Crosby: An Autobiography

Title: Fanny J. Crosby: An Autobiography (Hendrickson Biographies)

Series: None

Year: 2008 (later edition)

Author: Fanny J. Crosby

Summary: "The life of the beloved hymn writer told in her own words."

Frances Jane Crosby (1820-1915), usually known as Fanny Crosby, was an American lyricist best known for her Protestant Christian hymns. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 hymns, despite being blind from shortly after birth. Also known for her preaching and speaking, during her lifetime Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States.

To this day the vast majority of American hymnals contain her work. Some of her best known songs include "Blessed Assurance," "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home," "Praise Him, Praise Him," and "To God Be the Glory." Since some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 100 different pseudonyms during her career.

Fanny Crosby entered what was then known as the New York Institution for the Blind at the age of fifteen and afterward taught English and history (1847-58).

As a pupil and as a teacher, Fanny spent 35 years at the school. She was often asked to entertain visitors with her poems, and she frequently met with presidents, generals and other dignitaries. She was asked to play at President Grant's funeral. Her first book of poems, published in 1844, was called "The Blind Girl and Other Poems."

After leaving the school, she dedicated her life to serving the poorest and the neediest. Supporting herself by her writing, she quickly gained fame for her hymns. Her usual fee was a mere two dollars which frequently went to her work with the poor. Her mission work is legendary as is her devotion to serving others above herself.

Long unavailable, this is the story (originally published in 1906 as "Memories of Eighty Years") of a remarkable life, told by Miss Crosby herself. (from Amazon and Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Fanny Crosby

Review: On the whole, I've not read very many biographies, and no autobiographies, so picking up this book was a new experience for me. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. As a kid, one tends to suffer the delusions that books based on famous people are chock-full of boring facts and names. Fanny Crosby's autobiography, however, was nothing of the sort. The story of her life, although tragic at times, was interesting to learn about. She had a wonderful sense of humor, and each chapter is sprinkled with fun anecdotes. Did you know that she hated math, stood before Congress on two occasions, worked with D.L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, and had President Grover Cleveland copy out her poems when he was only seventeen? 

Personally, Fanny's story was a blessing to see, especially as many people remember her only as the blind hymn-writer. But she was so much more than that. When asked about her condition, she replied that she wasn't bitter about being blind. Instead, she accepted it with love, and she wouldn't trade places with anyone. Never once did she berate what happened to her, but rather thanked God that the first face she would ever see was His, and His alone. In that light, I appreciate her testimony even more, and it makes me think twice now when reading over some of her hymns and poems. 

When my life work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand.
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hands. 
~ "I Shall Know Him" by Fanny Crosby (1891)

Advisory: None

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Fanny J. Crosby on Amazon!

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