Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fanny Crosby

Anyone who studies the history of Christian hymns can't help but have heard about Fanny Crosby, who wrote the lyrics to more than 8,000 hymns despite being blind almost from birth. Naturally, most of these hymns are no longer remembered in today's church hymnals, although a great many are still sung regularly.

My wife and I have had the privilege of being invited to the home of Dr. David M. Scholer, one of the professors that I work for (David and his wife Jeannette and have been friends for years now, and David officiated at our wedding) to join a group of friends in a "hymn sing." During this time, we have sung many hymns that we have known for years, as well as a few that we have never heard before. One of the other participants in this "hymn sing" has recently unearthed a couple of hymnals from around the beginning of the 20th century, and copied all of the Fanny Crosby hymns he could find.

As we looked through the titles (and even attempted to sing a couple of the unfamiliar ones!), we quickly noticed several recurring themes. This is, of course, natural enough. Indeed, I expect that Ms. Crosby probably did not remember when writing certain hymns that she already had another hymn following a similar theme already in her repertoire, there were simply so many of them!

In fact, my wife observed that, taking the names of some of the hymns together, one could almost write a comedic sketch. Here's one attempt. Each line represents a distinct hymn title (note: if you follow the titles in your own hymnal, you may discover that a few hymns are not credited to Fanny Crosby, but to another name. Ms. Crosby used quite a few pseudonyms during her career. I have it on good authority that the lyrics [not the music] of the hymns listed here were indeed written by Fanny Crosby):

All the Way My Saviour Leads Me
Near the Cross
Nearer the Cross
Draw Me Nearer
There Will I Follow Thee
A Few More Marchings
Never Give Up
Only a Step
Jesus is Calling
Praise Him! Praise Him!
Safe in the Arms of Jesus
He Hideth My Soul


  1. Yep. Not a typo, but really that astonishingly huge number. (Although my professor, who's now started on a campaign to collect all these hymns, says he's only to the upper 30s himself. A LOOONG way to go!) ;)



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