Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Blessed Assurance"

"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.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with His goodness, lost in His love."

Fanny J. Crosby 1820 - 1915

Blessed Assurance is just one of the nearly 9000 hymns penned by Fanny Crosby. As remarkable as that is in itself, it is even more remarkable when you consider that she was blind.

Fanny was not born blind. When she was six weeks old, she became ill. The family doctor was away, so another doctor attended the infant. His treatment included applying hot poultices to her eyes which resulted in blindness. It was subsequently discovered that this doctor was a quack, and he quickly disappeared from the area.

Instead of growing up with bitterness and anger over what surely seemed so unfair, Fanny lived her life with joyful acceptance. When only eight years old she wrote this little poem:

"Oh, what a happy soul I am,
captionhough 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"

As a child she memorized large portions of scripture - five chapters a week. She could recite the Pentateuch, the Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and many Psalms.

At the age of 15 she was sent to the N.Y. Institute for the Blind. She remained there for 23 years - 12 years as a student and 11 years as a teacher. She continued to write poetry while at the institute but was not encouraged by her teachers who felt it a distraction to her studies. It was a visit from William Cullen Bryant that changed everything. After reading some of her verse, he encouraged her to keep writing. "He never knew how much he did by those few words," she said afterward.

By the age of 23 Fanny was reading her verse before Congress. In her lifetime, she knew all the presidents personally. She was one of the best known women in the United States.

In 1858 she married a former student from the Institute - Alexander Van Alstyne. He was considered on of New York's best organists and wrote the music to many of Fanny's hymns. They had one daughter who died in infancy.

Among the hymns she wrote are:
"A Shelter in the Time of Storm"
"Near the Cross'
"He Hideth My Soul"
"Tell Me the Story of Jesus"

Fanny continued to write poetry right up until the time of her death. She lived to be nearly 95.

There is so much more to her story. Hers was an amazing life of absolute dedication to the Lord. You can easily find more if you are interested. I just want to include one more remarkable quote from this wonderful poetess:
"Blindness can not keep the sunlight of hope from the trustful soul. One of the easiest resolves that I formed in my young and joyous heart was to leave all care to yesterday, and to believe that the morning would bring forth its own peculiar joy."