Because Fanny Crosby's birthday is this Saturday, I'm making this an informal Fanny Crosby week. She'll be 192 years old...theoretically. =)
I grew up singing and memorizing Fanny Crosby hymns, so I love them all and would have a terrible time picking my favorite! But I'm pretty bad about picking favorites in general. (I felt very sorry for my pastors Sunday night during Q&A when they were asked to list favorite hymn, most influential book, and highest recommended book...that's an impossible task!)
Most everyone has either heard of Fanny Crosby or at least heard some of her more famous hymns. "To God Be the Glory", "Blessed Assurance", and "He Hideth My Soul" are just a few examples. She in fact wrote over 9,000 hymns in her 95 years! Obviously I don't come close to knowing even half of her hymns--though it's a lifetime challenge of mine to compile as many of them as I can--but I do know a lot, and I've narrow down my list for this week.
There are two things you need to know about Fanny Crosby: One, she was saved by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus for the glory of God. Two, she was blind.
The reason these are significant is at first obvious, but then not so obvious.
One: She’s a saved sinner, so her poetry tells the story of Christ’s love, of His redemption, of His sustaining grace, and of his glory. That’s obvious. But because we’re sometimes quick to skip over that fact to see what else she was or accomplished in her life time, we miss the most important thing that happened in her life. Let me repeat, she was a sinner saved by grace! Hello! Were not for grace we would have none of her 9,000+ hymns! If Christ had not died, she would have no message to share. If God did not seek His own glory, she would not have desired Him. I’m sorry if I’m sounding repetitive, but I do not think we can ever overstate the obvious when it comes to the gospel. Maybe that’s why Fanny often repeated phrases in her refrains. =)
Redeemed–how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy–His child, and forever, I am.
(refrain) Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed, His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus, No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence With me doth continually dwell.
I think of my blessed Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long;
I sing for I cannot be silent, His love is the theme of my song.
I know there’s a crown that is waiting, In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect, At home with the Lord I shall be.
I know I shall see in His beauty The King in whose law I delight,
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps And giveth me songs in the night.
Ok, Two: She lost her sight as a baby due to a fill-in doctor’s erroneous prescription treatment, so it is amazing how much she overcame and accomplished in her life. That’s obvious. But because of her blindness, she had better vision than anyone. It’s hard to find a more poignant example of walking by faith than in the life of Fanny Crosby. Not only did she literally have to take every step on earth by faith, she learned how to make each step one closer to Jesus in heaven.
Not once is there recorded an instance of Fanny complaining or speaking in anger or bitterness about her blindness or the man who caused it. In fact, as early as age 8 she wrote:
Oh, what a happy soul I am,
Though 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!
What’s more, she often rejoiced in the fact that, because she was never able to see anything while on her earth, the first thing she would ever see would be the face of Jesus. Now that’s a pretty glorious first look, wouldn’t you think? And a very good outlook (pardon the pun) for life. The story goes that a well-meaning preacher found it a great pity that “the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you”. Fanny Crosby’s reply was, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”
All the way my Savior leads me: What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me: Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial, Feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter; And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the rock before me, Lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me: O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal, Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages–Jesus led me all the way.
One thing I noticed is that there are generally one of three themes in her hymns: praising God, drawing closer to God, and looking for heaven. Tomorrow I want to explore more why I think that’s significant, especially for her case.
Meanwhile I’ll close with one more hymn. It is probably one of my favorites of hers, if not my favorite. (Have I said that before?) I also love the melody to this one.
Some day the silver chord will break, And I no more as now shall sing;
But oh the joy when I shall wake Within the palace of the King!
(Refrain) And I shall see Him face to face, And tell the story–Saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face, And tell the story–Saved by grace.
Some day my earthly house will fall, I cannot tell how soon ’twill be;
But this I know–my All in all Has now a place in heaven for me.
Some day, when fades the golden sun Beneath the rosy-tinted west,
My blessed Lord shall say, “Well done!” And I shall enter into rest.
Some day; till then I’ll watch and wait– My lamp all trimmed and burning bright–
That when my Savior opes the gate, My soul to Him may take its flight.