Blind hymnist Frances Jane Crosby (who had over 100 different pseudonyms during her lifetime) wrote the lyrics to many popular Protestant Christian hymns. Extremely prolific, writing the text to more than 8,000 hymns, Crosby was also a well-known poet and public speaker in America.
Photo: Fanny Jane Crosby, public domain
Born in Putnam County, New York, Crosby was blinded due to an illness at the age of six weeks. Her father died when she was one years old, and she was raised in the Methodist faith by her mother and grandmother. She remained a very active member of the Methodist church throughout her life. At the age of eight, she began writing poetry. Crosby always wrote several poetry and hymn texts at once in her head and dictated the text to someone else to write down.
When she was 15, Frances enrolled in the New York Institute For the Blind, where she learned to sing and play the piano and guitar.
Crosby's texts became both hymns and popular songs. She is especially known for writing the texts to many of George Frederick Root's song, including "There's Music in the Air" and "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower." She wrote her first hymn in 1863 and wrote over 8,000 hymn texts throughout her lifetime, including "Blessed Assurance, "Jesus is Tenderly Calling You Home," and "To God Be the Glory."
Crosby wrote the following of her physical condition:
"Oh what a happy soul I am, 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."