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  • Shawn Thornton

A Woman with a Clear View of Christ

Friday - March 18th

Scripture to Read Today: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18


So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

As the author of more than 9000 hymns and 1000 secular poems and songs, hymn writer Francis (Fanny) Jane Crosby was one of the most beloved Christian figures of the late 19th century. She accomplished so much for the Lord in her lifetime - despite being blind since infancy.

Born March 24, 1820, Frances Jane Crosby had normal vision at birth but suffered an eye inflammation at six weeks. The family's usual doctor was unavailable. Fanny's family sought help from a man who claimed to be medically qualified but put a poultice on her eyes that left the infant's eyes scarred. The "doctor" hurriedly left town.

Not long after the blinding incident, Fanny's father died, and her young mother sought domestic work in a nearby town. Her mother left Fanny in the care of her grandmother.

Resolved that Fanny would not be utterly dependent on others, Eunice determined to educate Fanny about many aspects of the world around her. As a result, by the age of ten, Fanny had memorized significant portions of the Bible (including the first five books of the Old Testament and the four New Testament Gospels).

As Fanny grew, she was often discouraged and prayed for God to use her - refusing to let her blindness limit her. Her new resolve was expressed in her first poem:

O, what a happy soul am I!

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!

As Fanny became a teenager, it became evident that she had great creative talent. She sang well, played the piano, and became quite well known locally as a poet. Then at age 14, her mother heard about a new opportunity for Fanny in the newly opened New York Institute for the Blind. So in 1835, Fanny enrolled in the school. She finally found what she'd been praying for - a chance to learn among people who could teach her all she wanted to learn.

Fanny continued to demonstrate her poetic talent. She was frequently asked to compose verses for special occasions and honor prominent visitors to the Institute. She became a teacher at the school in 1842. As the Institute's appointed poetess, she became acquainted with such celebrities as famed singer Jenny Lind, President James K. Polk, Henry Clay, General Winfield Scott, and Horace Greeley. Another employee not only wrote down her poems but also became her life

long friend. His name was Grover Cleveland. Fanny personally met eight U.S. Presidents.

While at the school, Fanny met a fellow instructor, Alexander Van Alystyne, also an accomplished musician. They married in 1858. Fanny gave birth to a baby the following year, but the child died shortly after birth.

As Fanny recovered from the loss of her child, she may well have found solace and comfort in her deep and lifelong faith. She began to write more poems and songs about her faith. She partnered with several musicians who took her poems and put them to music.

Fanny completed many speaking tours and invested in home mission work as she got older. But as she entered her 90s, she gradually stayed closer to home, which at the time was with a niece in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Nevertheless, a steady stream of visitors still wanted advice, an autograph, or just a glimpse of the fabled "Queen of the Gospel Song."

Some of Fanny Crosby's most popular hymns are: "Blessed Assurance," "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Rescue the Perishing," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior," and "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross." Crosby died in her sleep on February 11, 1915, at 94.

God used Fanny's blindness to bless churches around the world with her Gospel songs. Fanny lived a long life with many heavy trials. But her poems and songs buoyed her spirits, and as she shared them, others with heavy hearts found their focus shifting to Christ. Fanny always believed the first smiling face she would ever see would be that of her Savior. Many who met her said that, though she was blind, she had a clear vision of Christ.

In her song, "I Shall Know Him," Fanny wrote:

When my life work is ended,

and I cross the swelling tide,

When the bright and glorious morning I shall see

I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,

And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

Fanny Crosby taught us that any one of us can have a clear vision of Christ, even if we are blind!


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