Poet, Hymnist. Born Frances Jane Crosby in Gayville, New York the only child of John and Mercy Crosby. An illness at two months led to applications of poultices and plasters to her affected eyes, and the treatment blinded her. Some six months later, her father died, forcing her mother to work, while she was raised by her grandmother. At about age ten, she and her mother relocated to Connecticut, where Fanny was taught the Bible by rote and could recite the four Gospels and Song of Solomon among other verses by the time she was 12. At fifteen, she enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind where she studied such things as English, science, history, philosophy, astronomy, and music and where her penchant for writing poetry was encouraged. Her first published work was ‘A Blind Girl and Other Poems' which appeared in1844, followed by ‘Monterey and Other Poems' in 1853, and ‘A Wreath of Columbia's Flowers' in 1858. She also learned to sing and mastered the guitar, the piano, the organ, and became a noted harpist. From 1847 to 1858, she joined the faculty, teaching English and history. In 1850, during a cholera outbreak, she remained at the school to nurse the sick, rather than retreat to the safety of the countryside. From that point her compositions began to reflect a more religious tone. She became an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She married Alexander van Alstyne, also a blind musician and teacher, in 1858. Her first hymn was published in 1863 with the music of composer William Bradbury, ‘There's a Cry from Macedonia.' She continued to work with Bradbury and for other composers, including Philip Phillips, Hubert P. Main, Robert Lowry, W. H. Doane, Ira D. Sankey, Philip P. Bliss, W. F. Sherwin, and Phoebe Knapp over the next forty years, writing such hymns as ‘Blessed Assurance,' ‘Saved By Grace,' ‘To God Be the Glory,' and ‘Safe in the Arms of Jesus,' the last being played at President U. S. Grant's funeral in 1885. For several years she was under contract to write three hymns a week for the publishing firm Bigelow and Main. They purchased 5,900 poems from her and in her later years provided her a regular allowance. By the end of her career she had written well over 8,000 hymns. Her last book of poems ‘Bells at Ev¬en¬ing and Other Vers¬es' was published in 1897. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1975. Several biographies have been published including ‘Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby' by Edith Blumhofer in 2005.
Bio by: Iola
She hath done what she could