Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review: Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby

Book Review: Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby

Fanny J. Crosby, observes author Edith L. Blumhofer, deserves study for many reasons, and one of the most compelling is the fact that, as I observed as a child, she wrote almost every other hymn in the Baptist Hymnal. During her life, she wrote some 8,000 hymns.

In addition she was involved in the beginnings of blind education in New York state (she was blind), and she was involved in many benevolences and rescue missions. Since she lived through a time of huge cultural change, and in spite of her blindness kept up with events in society and was an amazingly independent woman in spite of her blindness.

According to Blumhofer, a myth has been cultivated around her, thanks to her blindness and her prolific output of hymns, a myth that ignored the real woman and dwelt on her supposed sanctity, that she was a “Protestant saint.” She was trained as a child to listen and memorize long passages, which stood her in good stead as an adult, and the good books her parents read to her gave her an excellent vocabulary. She was practical and learned many marketable skills, such as needlework and speechmaking, and after training at the New York Institution for the Blind, began to teach.

Her Heart Can See is a fascinating book about a real woman, not glamorized as most other biographies of Fanny J. Crosby have been. This is a story of a real woman, a pioneer in many ways, who made the most of her God-given talents and overcame major obstacles while she was at it.

If you are a fan of classic hymns, as I am, you will enjoy this book.


Cecelia Dowdy said...

Sounds like a fascinating book and a fascinating woman. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa Slack said...

Wow. 8K hymns! I have always been fascinated by this amazing woman. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Like you, I like stories of the real person, not the sanitized version.

Molly Noble Bull said...

What a talented person. Good for Fanny.

Anonymous said...

The ability to write so many beautiful hymns is amazing even for a seeing person. What a talented and truly gifted woman. I have trouble sewing by hand and I have my sight. Do you know if she wrote "Beulah Land"? Thanks for the new quest I will have to get the book and see if the hymns I remember were her writings. Thanks for this very informative subject. Very interesting. Thanks... Love, Teri