Monday, September 10, 2012

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: And He delighteth in his way.
Psalm 37:23

Music touches our lives and for many is such a personal means of worshiping our Lord and Savior.  This week we are going to learn about the author and origins of some of the most cherished hymns of all time.  You may be surprised to learn how God led the writers to share.

Author—Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915
This beloved gospel hymn was the expression of gratitude to God after a direct answer to prayer. It is reported that one day Fanny Crosby desperately needed five dollars and did not know where she could obtain this amount. As was her custom, she began to pray about this matter. Within a few minutes a stranger appeared at her door with just the right amount. “I have no way of accounting for this,” she wrote, “except to believe that God, in answer to my prayer, put it into the heart of this good man to bring the money. My first thought was, it is so wonderful the way the Lord leads me. I immediately wrote the poem and Dr. Lowry set it to music.” The hymn first appeared in a Sunday School collection, Brightest and Best, compiled by William H. Doane and Robert Lowry in 1875.

Fanny Jane Crosby was born of humble parents at Southeast, New York, on March 24, 1823. She was blinded at the age of six weeks by improper medical treatment. Throughout her lifetime she was a faithful member of the St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City. She was educated at the New York School for the Blind. From 1847 to 1858 she served as a teacher at this school. In 1858 she married a blind musician, Alexander Van Alstyne, a highly respected teacher of music at the blind institution.

Her early verse writing was primarily of a secular nature. One of her popular songs, “Rosalie, the Prairie Flower,” brought her almost three thousand dollars in royalties, a considerable amount for that day. Through the influence of a well-known church musician, W. B. Bradbury, she began, in her early forties, to write gospel song lyrics in earnest and became the “happiest creature in all the land.” It is said that Fanny Crosby never wrote a hymn text without first kneeling in earnest prayer and asking for divine guidance. She was also characterized by the little American flag that she always carried along with her Bible. Throughout her career she was associated in her writing with such leading gospel musicians of her time as Ira D. Sankey, Wm. H. Doane, John Sweney, George Stebbins, George Root, William Kirkpatrick, and others.

Other hymns by Fanny J. Crosby include “Blessed Assurance” (No. 11), “My Savior First of All” (No. 60), “Rescue the Perishing” (No. 76), and “Saved By Grace” (101 More Hymn Stories, No. 76).

Robert Lowry was born on March 12, 1826, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He later became known as a brilliant preacher and pastor of a number of leading Baptist churches throughout the East. Music and hymnology were his favorite studies, but always as an avocation. Later, upon the death of William Bradbury, Lowry was selected as music editor of the Biglow Publishing Company. It is said that the quality of his publications did much to stimulate the cause of sacred music in this country during the latter part of the past century.

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