Fannie Crosby wrote her first poem at the age of eight. It begins, “Oh what a happy soul I am,” foretelling a lifetime attitude of happiness and contentment but also of determination.
Fanny Crosby Wrote over 8,000 Hymns
Though blind from the age of two weeks, Fannie Crosby seems to have never considered blindness to be a handicap. Even as a young child, she was able to play outdoors with other children, running, jumping and climbing trees. She excelled as a student and later as a member of the faculty of The New York Institute for the Blind. Combining her poetic and scholarly gifts, she wrote over 8,000 hymns before her death at age 95, in 1915. No hymn writer has written more. The next most prolific author, Charles Wesley, wrote only 6,500, 1,500 fewer!
Endured Much Grief
Fannie Crosby’s life was hugely successful, but she also endured much grief. Her only child died in infancy, and her husband of 44 years died when she was 82. Her close friend, Phoebe Knapp, who wrote the music for Crosby’s, “Blessed Assurance,” died six years later.
Pursuit of Happiness
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are ideals of American life. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer-- “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” is a fundamental principle of Reformed theology.
Fannie Crosby’s provides several keys to successfully pursuing happiness and to glorifying and enjoying God in her remarkable poetic output. Consider her first childhood poem.
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, nor I won’t!
Key to Happiness
First, she clearly had an attitude of determination to be happy and content. Second, she focused intently on her blessings rather than her difficulties. Third, though she was keenly aware of her blindness, she would not let that get her down. Finally, she declares faith in God as the key to happiness in her beloved hymn, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of Salvation, purchase of God,
Born of his spirit, washed in his blood.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my savior, all the day long!