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

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

Edith L. Blumhofer

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.

“This is a first-rate biography, meticulously researched and elegantly crafted, that shows us why Fanny Crosby’s lyrics touched the hearts of millions.” —Grant Whacker

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Drawing on primary sources—including thousands of unpublished Crosby manuscripts—Edith Blumhofer sorts fact from fiction in the life of this remarkable woman.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 was professor of history and director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.


REVIEWS

Rosemary Skinner Keller
“Edith Blumhofer has written the definitive biography and authoritative work on Fanny Crosby. Previous studies of Crosby have been inspirational, sentimental pieces that have hallowed her as a glorified saint. Blumhofer has brought together extensive research with creative analysis to tell the real life story of Fanny Crosby as a strong, independent woman.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this marvelous new biography . . . Blumhofer offers a lively account of Crosby’s many accomplishments [and] also contextualizes Crosby’s life in larger currents of American history. . . A splendid and entertaining contribution to American religious history.”

Grant Wacker
“This is a first-rate biography, meticulously researched and elegantly crafted, that shows us why Fanny Crosby’s lyrics touched the hearts of millions. In these pages Edith Blumhofer shows the ways in which music, gender, disability, money, and the remarkably ecumenical character of evangelical religion in the late nineteenth century shaped Crosby’s life and work. In the process, Blumhofer proves once again that she is a historian of exceptional skill.”

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