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How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’ t! To weep and sigh because I ’m blind, I cannot and I won’t.”
The Hymns of Fanny Crosby B y P rof . J ohn B isse e l T rowbridge
She attended the New York School for the Blind and for eleven years was a teacher there. Here she met Alexander Van Alstyne, the blind teacher of music in the same Institution, and they were married in 1858. In ad dition to her hymn writing she wrote words for such popu lar songs of the mid-nineteenth century as “ Rosalie, The Prairie Flower,” “ Hazel Dell,” and “ There’s Music in the Air,” musical setting by George F. Root, who for a time taught music in the New York School for the Blind. Fanny Crosby’s, hymns, “ Safe in the.Arms o f Jesus,” “ Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour,” “ Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” “ I Am Thine, G Lord,” and her Gospel songs, “ Saved by Grace/’ “ Blessed Assurance,” “ Rescue: the Perishing,” “ Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet,” and “ JeSus is Calling” are among her best loved poems, any one of which would have placed her in the hall o f fame. _ These hymns are characterized by simplicity, directness, and clarity of thought. They create a most reverent at mosphere’and at; the same time have a strong evangelistic appeal. They form a most unusual combination o f the elements of worship that belong to the true hymn, and the qualities of testimony and exhortation of a Gospel song. In “ Blessed Assurance” we find the telling o f an ex perience and the giving of a testimony; “ Rescue the Per ishing” is an exhortation to Christians to go to work, as “ Jesus is Calling” is an exhortation to the unconverted to accept Christ; “ Close to Thee,” “ Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” and “ I Am Thine, O Lord” are largely true hymns in content, though cast in the Gospel song mold; “ Saved by Grace” relates present experience and contemplates future glory ; “ Safe in the'Arms of Jesus.,” her own favorite of all her hymns, is one o f the simplest in form and language, but wonderfully sweet in its expression of absolute trust in an all-sufficient Saviour. ‘ Fanny Crosby wrote her hymns out of a rich experi ence and they go from the heart to the heart. As literature they fall below the standard of many writers, but as heart messages they satisfy the earnest soul. She went home to a rich reward in 1915— and is now realizing the longing expressed in her immortal chorus: “ And I shall see Him face to face, And tell the story— Saved by grace.” , Progress In Palestine Sir Herbert-Samuel, former High Commissioner for Palestine, at a recent gathering in London, said that since the Declaration, the Jewish population in Palestine had in creased by 100,000 souls, and the antagonism of the Arab population, which was still the great majority, had been mitigated. The Earl of Balfour said that he was authorized to say that the Palestine Government had in mind all the difficulties confronting the Zionist movement, and it in tended to introduce, as soon as possible, certain general reforms in the matter of land taxation. A special staff had recently been appointed to undertake the work o f land settlement, which was an essential preliminary to reform in land taxation. They might rest assured that all that could properly and justly be done would be .done to make the Zionist organization a success.
HE feminine touch in our hymnology during the past 100 years is very marked. This is as it should be, for it has been through Christianity only that woman has been given her rightful place. Not only does her obligation to Christ form an unusual incentive, but she is peculiarly fitted mentally, spiritually and emotionally for the writing of sacred lyrics of a tender and devotional type. Elizabeth Barrett Browning has voiced this fitness most beautifully in verse: : “ Not she with trait’rous kiss her Saviour stung.; Not she denied Him with unholy tongue; She, while apostles shrank, could danger brave, Last at His cross, and-earliest at His grave.” In early Christian centuries and during Medieval times woman had not attained to the position of equality'with man in matters o f education that she has been accorded in recent times. Culture was confined to a large extent tb monasteries, and the clergy did most of the hymn writing. In the rugged Reformation era, writing sacred lyrics was still a “ man’s job” ; and in the-two centuries following, the religious world was torn with controversy that entered even into the hymnody and psalmody of the time—- an activity in which woman took little part. But during the 19th century the writing of hymns took on a more devo tional and experimental tone and the names of many women began to appear as the authors o f hymns of the first rank. During this period there were added to our hymn books such hymns as—-“ Still, Still with Thee,” by Harriett Beecher Stowe; “ Nearer, My God, to Thee,” by Sarah Flower Adams; “ Take My Life and Let It Be,” by Frances Ridley Havergal; “ Just As I Am ,” by Charlotte Elliott, and many others. But more prolific than any of these,-and doubtless far ther reaching in influence, was Fanny Crosby (Mrs. A lex ander Van Alstyne). Duffield has classed'her with Watts and Wesley, especially in the number o f hymns written. Watts was the author of 600 hymns; Wesley o f 6,000; Fanny Crosby, nearly 7,000. In commenting upon this matter o f quantity, Duffield said, “ It is more to Mrs. Van Alstyne’s credit as a writer, that she has occasionally found a pearl, than that she has brought to the surface so many oyster shells.” , This doubtful compliment is no reflection upon our poet’s ability, for the statement fails to add the fact that the same might be said of every voluminous writer. The poet who thinks in verse is not always on the mountain top o f inspiration. Wesley wrote doggerel and Watts is the author of “ Dogs delight to bark and bite.” Fapny Crosby was born in Putnam County, New York, March 24, 1823. While still an infant she lost the sight of both eyes completely, through the unfortunate application of hot poultices. This great affliction did not make her unhappy, but on the contrary she made it contributory to a life o f service through her glowing Christian experience. Her philosophy of life was expressed in one of her earliest compositions, at the age of eight years: . “ O what a happy soul am I ! . Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be.
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