- Crosby, Fanny
- (1820-1915)American hymn-writerFanny Crosby was the pen name of Frances Jane Van Alystyne, one of the most famous and prolific of American hymn-writers. She was representative of the post-Civil War writers who were under contract to produce a steady supply of hymns week by week. She eventually authored 8,000 hymns, many published under pseudonyms. Though most are now forgotten, a few remain popular in Evangelical circles, such as "Blessed Assurance," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour," "I Am Thine, Oh Lord," "To God Be the Glory," "Near the Cross," and "Saviour More than Life to Me."Crosby was born in Putnam County, New York, on March 24, 1820. She became blind during childhood and later attended the New York City Institution for the Blind (1835-47), where she taught after completing her studies. In 1851, she joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1858, she married Alexander Van Alstyne (d. 1902), a music teacher.Crosby published her first collection of poetry in 1844, "A Blind Girl and Other Poems," and further volumes followed. She wrote her first hymns in the 1850s. Set to music by George F. Root, some became quite popular at the time. Most of her life she wrote under contract to Bigelow & Main, and she was expected to produce new songs on a regular basis. She also became closely associated with songleader Ira Stankey and his boss, evangelist Dwight L. Moody.Crosby died on February 12, 1915.See also hymns/music.Further reading:■ Fanny J. Crosby, Fanny J. Crosby: Memories of Eighty Years. Her Own Story of Her Life and Hymns (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1908)■ Sandy Dengler, Fanny Crosby: Writer of 8,000 Songs (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985)■ S. Trevena Jackson, Fanny Crosby's Story of Ninety-Four Years (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1915)■ John Loveland, Blessed Assurance: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 1978).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.