LESSON FROM A BLIND WOMAN
There are things the Bible told us to learn from, including the ants, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Pro 6:6 ESV), but today, we will be talking about a woman who has contributed to the quality of our worship through songs, through hymns, and renditions. There was something unique about this woman- SHE WAS BLIND. Maybe she was born blind.
Fanny J Crosby: Her full name is Frances Jane Van Alstyne (nee Crosby) born March 24, 1820 and died February 12, 1915. She was aged 94 and was an American mission worker, poet, lyricist and composer of songs and hymns.
In the history of church hymns, she is to me, the most prolific hymn and gospel song composer of all time writing more than 8000 hymns for church use. She was also a song teacher. She was known as the ‘Queen of Gospel Song writers and as the Mother of Modern congregational singing.
Some of Crosby’s best known hymns include Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior, Blessed Assurance, Rescue the Perishing, Praise Him Praise Him, To God be the Glory, among others.
Fanny Cosby may not have been born blind or maybe she was, but at six weeks old, she caught a cold and developed an inflammation of the eyes. Mustard poultices were applied to treat the discharges and that method of treatment may have damaged her optic nerves and blinded her, though modern doctors think that her blindness may have been from birth.
Her father died when she was six months old so she was raised by her mother and her grandmother. At the age of three, she was examined by a surgeon who concluded that her condition was inoperable and that her blindness was permanent.
Let us hear her quotes:
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly eyes were offered to me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”
In another statement, she is quoted to have said, “When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior”.
Her biographer, Anne Willis, opined that:
“Had it not for her affliction she might not have so good an education or have so great an influence, and certainly not so fine a memory.”
Fanny Crosby met Alexander van Alstyne, who was also blind, and both of them had a daughter who died in her sleep soon after birth from either Typhoid Fever, or Sudden Infant Dead Syndrome (SIDS) and Crosby’s song “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” was inspired by her death.
On February 12, 1915, Fanny Crosby, after 6 month illness at age 94, died of Arteriosclerosis and a Cerebral Hemorrhage.
On her tombstone at her requests carries these words: “Aunt Fanny: She hath done what she could; Fanny J. Crosby”.
These are her legacies:
Fanny Crosby Day was put on Sunday, March 26, 1905 to honor her 85th birthday two days earlier.
In March 1925, about 3000 churches throughout the US observed Fanny Crosby Day to commemorate the 105th anniversary of her birth.
Fanny Crosby Memorial Home for the Aged (1925-1996): She left money in her will for the sheltering of senior males who had no places to live. In 1975, Fanny Crosby was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Food for thought! If a woman born blind contributed so much for the edification of the church through songs, we that can see should ask ourselves, what contributions have I made?
Church of Christ, Kado Abuja.
(WIKIPEDIA, Fanny J. Crosby, March 24, 1820-February 12, 1915)