HYMNS OF FANNY CROSBY AT FCPC
By LORETTA FULTON
The hymns of Francis Jane (Fanny) Crosby will be featured Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Wednesday evening programming at First Central Presbyterian Church, 400 Orange St.
Guest speaker will be Glenn Dromgoole, a member of First Central, former editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, prolific writer, and owner, with his wife, Carol, of Texas Star Trading Company. A sing-a-long of some of Crosby’s hymns will be part of the program.
Crosy, who was an ancestor of crooner Bing Crosby, was born March 24, 1820, and died Feb. 12, 1915. In her 94 years, Fanny Crosby, wrote more than 9,000 hymns despite being blind.
In March 2019, retired Dyess Elementary School music teacher Carolyn Newman wrote an article about Crosby for Spirit of Abilene.
“The reason I chose to write about Fanny Crosby,” Newman wrote, “is that she was a spiritually influential woman during her lifetime and that nearly two hundred years later, her legacy is impacting me and others around the world.”
Her attitude toward life inspires us all, Newman wrote. Her first verse, written at age 8, echoed her refusal to feel sorry for herself. “Don’t waste sympathy on me, I am a happy person.”
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,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot, and I won’t!
At age 15, Crosby was a student at the New York Institute for the Blind where she later was a faculty member. Because of her grandmother’s encouragement, Crosby memorized five chapters of the Bible each week. She could recite the Pentateuch, the Gospels, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and many Psalms. By age 23, Crosby was addressing Congress, becoming the first woman to speak at the Senate. She was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., endorsing education for the blind. She knew all of the chief executives of her lifetime, especially Grover Cleveland, who served as secretary for the Institute for the Blind before his election.
She wrote about issues of the day, including temporance and anti-child labor. Among her creations were 1,000 secular poems, four poetry books, two autobiographies, political and patriotic songs and five cantatas. Hymn writing began in her forties. Among her well known hymns are “Blessed Assurance,” “Saved by Grace,” “Draw Me Nearer,” “To God Be the Glory,” “Praise Him, Praise Him,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” “Rescue the Perishing.” Her goal was for the hymns to reach a million people for Christ.
Strauss is known as the Waltz King, Newman wrote, Sousa is known as the March King and Crosby is known as the Hymn Queen. Amazingly, in the year 2,000, a forgotten cache of her hymns was discovered at Wheaton College. They wheeled out 20 library carts containing manuscripts. As a result of the discovery, musicians such as Michael W. Smith were contacted to write melodies, resulting in the 2015 album: ‘Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns of Fanny Crosby.’ More recently, top Southern gospel artists have now turned their hands to 15 or more melodies of the timeless writings of America’s greatest hymnist. The album is “Fanny Crosby: Newly Discovered Hymns and Songs.”
Loretta Fulton is founder and editor of Spirit of Abilene