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Francis Crosby

Posted: July 4, 2018 in Francis Crosby


Francis Crosby 1890-1915  94 years

Francis was born in New York in 1820. She was a regular baby, until she contracted a virus at six weeks old and a fake doctor prescribed mustard poultices on her eyes, which completely blinded her. She went to a school for the blind and became a teacher. She taught English, speaking Roman and American history.

At around thirty years, she started to write words to music. She became well known and met some important people. She was the first woman to speak in the American Senate and she read a poem there on one occasion. Her poems were published in the newspapers and her name became known by many people.

She is known for her writing of hymns and Christian songs, of which she wrote thousands. They were well known and printed on hundreds of hymn books. Francis was concerned that her name would be on too may pages of the books, so she wrote using other names- pseudonyms. She used two hundred of these. Her hymns were full of feeling and persuasion to come and trust in the Saviour Jesus.

Francis became a Christian very early in her life. She did not blame God for what had happened to her, but could see great positives and strengths. She knew that God intended it for good. Blindness is a very difficult disability, and Francis’ faith shines clearly when she would speak about it.

She said that God kept her from many sins that are associated with the sight. She said she escaped many temptations by not being able to see!!

She would say that if she was offered earthly sight she would say “no” because the first face she would every see, was her Saviour.

God took this ability away from Francis, but gave her other abilities instead. She had the inner sight of wisdom and to be able to understand God’s word very well and deeply. She loved the Bible. She memorized the first four books of the Old Testament and also the four gospels before she was ten years old. She was able to memorize five chapters every week… She memorized most of the Bible over the time of her life.

She was abandoned by her family in her twenties. She went on to lobby the Senate and the Congress for rights of blind people. She was very effective because of her great skills. She became involved in politics and making an impression on the society in which she lived.

Francis married Van Alstyne another blind believer. They tried to work together on words and music, and to live frugal lives to give to the poor. At the age of 54, Francis was destitute. She worked and gave all the money to others, leaving none for herself.

An outbreak of Cholera where she lived, kept her helping the sick and dying. It went on for some time and Francis became worn down by it and became sad inside herself. She found it hard to resume her teaching after that and the sense of lack of spiritual development in her life. The fact that so many died and she worked so hard to save people, had a depressing impact on her life which she found it hard to overcome.

Throughout her life, she served God in writing many great hymns. She wrote 2,500 hymns and many were published in hymn books and other publications.

Whatever we do in life, what we do will be judged by other people. Francis’ work was no exception. Many appreciated her writing, but many did not. Her respite was the fact that she did it for God and to glorify Him, and to help other people to believe in Christ and be forgiven. This was her measure and she trusted it all to her God.

Her life was not without controversy or difficulties in the public place. Other people tried to get a benefit for her life or say they were trying to raise money for the poverty stricken hymn-writer. They wrote books and articles to persuade people to give to Francis, even thought she continually said she was not in need and her family were looking after her.

It caused her a lot of grief, but she had family and friends around her to encourage her. She spoke at events twice a week, well into old age.

Francis died of heart failure and bleeding on her brain. She was ninety-four years old. Christian people put up memorials to her in different places in America, and she was included in the “Gospel hall of fame”

People still sing her hymns today…

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.
Savior, Savior,
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.