Frances Jane Crosby
Biography of Frances Jane Crosby
Frances Jane Crosby (March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915), usually known as Fanny Crosby in the United States and by her married name, Frances van Alstyne, in the United Kingdom, was an American Methodist rescue mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. During her lifetime, she was well-known throughout the United States. By the end of the 19th century, she was "a household name" and "one of the most prominent figures in American evangelical life". She became blind while an infant.
Best known for her Protestant Christian hymns and gospel songs, Crosby was "the premier hymnist of the gospel song period", and one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000, with over 100 million copies of her songs printed. Crosby was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1975. Known as the "Queen of Gospel Song Writers", and as the "Mother of modern congregational singing in America", with "dozens of her hymns continu[ing] to find a place in the hymnals of Protestant evangelicalism around the world", with most American hymnals containing her work, as "with the possible exception of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, Crosby has generally been represented by the largest number of hymns of any writer of the twentieth century in nonliturgical hymnals". Her gospel songs were "paradigmatic of all revival music", and Ira Sankey attributed the success of the Moody and Sankey evangelical campaigns largely to Crosby's hymns. Some of Crosby's best-known songs include "Blessed Assurance", "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour", "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home", "Praise Him, Praise Him", "Rescue the Perishing", and "To God Be the Glory". Because some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 200 different pseudonyms during her career.
Crosby wrote over 1,000 secular poems, and had four books of poetry published, as well as two best-selling autobiographies. Additionally, Crosby co-wrote popular secular songs, as well as political and patriotic songs, and at least five cantatas on biblical and patriotic themes, including The Flower Queen, the first secular cantata by an American composer. Crosby was committed to Christian rescue missions, and was known for her public speaking.