Her Heart Can See offers an intimate, informed look at Fanny J. Crosby (1820–1915), the most prolific of all American hymn writers. Having lost her sight in infancy through a doctor’s negligence, Fanny went on to compose more than 9,000 hymns, as well as various other songs, cantatas, and lyrical productions. Crosby’s hymns, including such all-time favorites as “Blessed Assurance,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” and “I Am Thine, O Lord,” continue to be sung around the world.
Celebrated in her own day for her gospel hymns, Crosby was also very publicly involved with New York City’s rescue missions and with other benevolent efforts. She rubbed shoulders with the likes of Henry Clay, Grover Cleveland, Winfield Scott, Dwight L Moody, Ira Sankey, Jenny Lind, P. T. Barnum, and many other famous figures who people these pages. More than two dozen black-and-white photographs depict the people and settings among which Crosby moved.
Drawing on primary sources including thousands of unpublished Crosby manuscripts Edith Blumhofer sorts fact from fiction in the life of this remarkable woman. Blumhofer responsibly limns Crosby’s life as a gifted nineteenth-century northeastern Protestant woman, in the process showing why “this diminutive woman” was and is so beloved.
Edith L Blumhofer is professor of history and director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.