Torch, Summer 1981

a ny Crosby: A Music Hero of the Faith t would seem that Fanny Crosby had every reason to be sad and bitter all her life . Six weeks after she was born in 1820, her eyes became inflamed . Her regular doctor was not available so a substitute doctor was called to examine the new Crosby baby 's eyes . His diagnosis called for hot poultices, but it was a mistake. The result was total blindness for Fanny . She would never again see her mother' s face, a flower , or even the sunlight. In spite of her physical handicap, Fanny Crosby 's life evidenced joyfulness, a happiness inside and out . God gave her special grace to overcome her handicap and to excel . Her early years were spent doing housework , knitting, sewing, playing games and sports , climbing trees, and even riding horses . She accepted her mother's explanation that sometimes the Lord allows one of His special children to go without the sense of sight in order for the child to develop his other senses more fully . In that way a child can help carry out God's special plan for his life . Fanny's grandmother took her for long walks in the flower-blanketed meadows near her home in southeast New York. Here, she met nature through her senses of touch, hearing, smell , and taste. Her grandmother also spent countless hours reading Scriptures and poetry to an attentive Fanny . So great was her love for this that she memorized much of what she heard . Before she was ten years old, she had memorized the first four books of the Old and New Testaments. She also composed childlike verses of poetry, one of which was published in a county newspaper. It shows what a joyful child she was . Oh what a happy soul I am, Although I cannot see , I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be . How many blessings I enjoy That other people don't! So weep or sigh because I'm blind, I cannot, and I won ' t! b} Ron and Rebekah Coriell When Fanny was fourteen, news was brought to her that caused her heart to burst with excitement. Arrangements had been made for her to attend the New York Institute for the Blind . She quickly became an excellent student in all her subjects at the Institute, except for math . Regarding that subject , she penned a short verse: I loathe, abhor, it makes me sick To hear the word arithmetic! As her schooling progressed, her skill at poetry grew remarkably. On behalf of the school, she was asked on many occasions to recite her poems for prominent people . These included presidents Tyler, Adams, Polk, Cleveland , and famous senators such as Henry Clay. At the age of twenty~three, she became the first woman to ever address Congress and was given an ovation . Many of her poems were published in newspapers and magazines . In 1844 her first entire book of poetry was published. It wasn't until Fanny was forty-four years old that she began a career that would make her the most prolific hymn writer of all time . It is estimated that she penned at least eight thousand hymns . Over forty musicians put music to her verses . On two occasions , she "wrote" forty hymns in her head before dictating them to a secretary . Fanny was widely sought after as a civic, religious, and patriotic speaker. She traveled all over the country to the delight of thousands who thronged to see the blind hymn writer. Her joyful spirit remained always . Yet, it was in her hymns that her joy was given its most poetic expression. To God Be the Glory Great things He hath taught us , great things He hath done, And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; But purer and higher and greater will be Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see. At one of her last speaking engagements she said about herself, "My dear, dear friends ... These ninety years are rich with the wealth of goodness, sparkling with the best spirit of sweetness and overflowing with the true wine of joy and gladness ." This article was taken from Character Builders, written by Ron and Rebekah Coriell,© 1980 Fleming H. Revell Company, used by permission. 7