Francis Jane Crosby, A.K.A. Fanny Crosby was a prolific blind hymn writer of the 20th century having penned thousands of hymns. 

Crosby's life story is inspiring as she never let the fact that she was blind stop her from realizing her God-given potential. 

Fanny Crosby's Upbringing

Crosby was born in 1820 in New York, U.S.A. At only six weeks old, Crosby went blind due to an eye infection and medical ignorance. Before the age of one, her father, John, died of pneumonia after working in the fields. Crosby's mother, Mercy and her grandmother then took up the task of raising this blind little girl on their own. 

"Her grandmother spent long hours reading the Bible to her," according to Vision Video's life story on Fanny. "Fanny absorbed Scripture like a sponge. She could recite much of the New Testament, Proverbs, Ruth, and several other books of the Bible."

From 1835 to 1843 she was enrolled in the New York Institution for the Blind, during the time Braille was beginning to be developed. Crosby didn't learn to read Braille herself. This didn't stop her from expressing herself through writing and she became known as the blind poet. 

Crosby's poetic eulogy of U.S. President William Henry Harrison was published in the New York Herald in 1841. Her writing continued and she published her first work, The Blind Girl and Other Poems, in 1844. She published two more books after this and also started songwriting. 

Once she graduated, Crosby started teaching at the Institute that had been revolutionary in her life, the New York Institution for the Blind, teaching English and Ancient History. 

While people with disabilities didn't have many rights back in the 1800s, Crosby was the first female ever to be asked to speak in front of Congress.

"Fanny Crosby was invited to speak to the Senate and Congress. The purpose of her visit there was the make the case that disabled people can and should lead a productive role in society. She was very convincing and was very influential in making her point."

Turning Her Talents to Jesus

Crosby married a blind man, Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also a teacher at the Institution in 1858. The couple had a baby girl one year later, but tragedy struck the couple when their daughter died at just a few months of age. 

In 1864, at the age of 44, Crosby started to write hymns. 

"Following the death of their only child, Fanny and her husband sought comfort at church and attended regularly. The minister there insisted she introduce herself to William B. Bradbury, a famous composer who was looking for someone to write lyrics to accompany his music."

Crosby's most well-known hymn, 'Safe in the Arms of Jesus,' was written as a poem to her infant daughter. She also wrote 'Blessed Assurance,' 'To God be the Glory,' 'He Hideth My Soul,' and 'I Am Thine, O Lord' to name a few. 

While the total number of hymns that Crosby penned is unknown, it's somewhere between 5,000 and 9,000. As a humble servant of the Lord, Crosby used up to 200 pseudonyms for some of the hymns she wrote which is why it's hard to know the exact number. 

The talented poet and songwriter worked for Biglow and Main Company for the following 34 years, writing words to piano songs to create a myriad of hymns. 

While in her 80s, Crosby wrote two volumes of her life story, Fanny Crosby’s Life-Story published in 1903 and Memories of Eighty Years in 1906.

Crosby's husband passed away in 1902. It wasn't until 1915, at the age of 94 that Crosby passed away from a stroke after a long bought of illness. While Crosby has gone on to be with her Maker, her thousands of hymns keep her memory alive to this day.