Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Curious Case of Fanny J. Crosby

OK, so she's a little scary...
but she wrote great songs!
I work with songwriters all the time, especially songwriters who are writing Christian or gospel songs, hymns, or worship songs. Many start after a conversion, or a significant faith change in their life. And many start later in life to try to get their songs out to the world.

Fanny J. Crosby, was no different, except that she was very different!

She is most likely the most prolific hymn writer in history. She didn’t start writing hymns until she was in her thirties, and didn’t get started really publishing them in a big way until her forties! She was also blind almost since birth.
Many of us grew up with hymns in church, and if you didn’t, you recognize them as different and many times more endearing than today’s standard worship fare. If you’re not a churchgoer, you likely still know Amazing Grace or some other hymns very well.

Well, Fanny was the grandmamma of the hymn. She wrote more than 8,000 of them, including well known songs like “Blessed Assurance”, “To God Be the Glory”, “Jesus is Tenderly Calling You Home”, and “Praise Him, Praise Him”.

When she was six weeks old she caught a cold and developed inflammation of the eyes. According to her, mustard poultices were applied and this damaged the optic nerves. Doctors today say it was more likely congenital. Either way, she was blind her entire life.

Even as a child, though she “saw” through her condition, even writing about her blindness in her first poem at the age of 8.

One blog could not even get close to letting you know about this lady’s vast works, from poetry, to the hymns, to cantatas, to popular songs, and more. It’s kind of staggering.

To get a better idea of the incredible life of Fanny J. Crosby check out

So can you apply the life of this lady in the kind of scary looking pictures to your life as a songwriter?

Likely you won’t write almost 9,000 hymns, but the story of Fanny J. Crosby shows it’s never too late for God to use your songs at any stage of your life. She lived to be 95 and was inspiring presidents and church leaders long after her writing decreased in her later years.

She was a household name in America as a songwriter, and she was a blind woman in the late 1800s from humble beginnings. Oh yeah, and she had nary an internet connection, Facebook nor Twitter to build an audience.

So what’s your excuse?

Eric Copeland is a songwriter, music historian, and is hoping he doesn’t have nightmares of the scary looking Fanny J. Crosby chasing him with a piece of ragged sheet music in her hands. Find out more at

And if you like music history, check out our site


Julius J. Davis, Jr. said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this---Ms. Crosby is my absolute FAVORITE hymnwriter, and it's wonderful that you chose to spotlight her for an inspirational piece in your e-magazine/newsletter.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Julius J. Davis, Jr.

Eric Copeland said...

Thanks for reading Julius. She was a remarkable woman, and I could have written ten times more. What a story!


sng4you said...

Thank you Eric for all your inspiration you postings.
I have learned a lot from your words and act of faith in Music and God's guidance in this industry.
My fiance and I have made a decision to use our talents (Singing, writing music, dancing) to glorify God.
Your Creative Soul ministry is a blessing.
I look forward to reading your posts every time.
So we are beginners in the Christian music ministry.
Edward (my fiance) just recently took a leap of faith and decided to quit a worldly band he was dedicated to for the last two years.
His decision has lead me closer to God's purpose for our lives together. I know he has a purpose for us!
If you get a chance take a listen to a couple original songs we have created. (this is an original- the story of how we met. How God brought us together.)

We are producing Christian music and just started a production company.
Again, Thank you..

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at