Have you found out the name of the blind poet who wrote so many hymns?” asked Mother.
“Tell Mother who she was,” said Linda.
“Fanny Crosby,” answered Betty Lou, pronouncing the words slowly and carefully.
“How did you find out?” Mother asked.
“Linda told me.”
“How did you find out, Linda?”
“I looked through our hymnbook to find the names of the women who wrote hymns. I found more hymns by Fanny Crosby than by any other woman. There were several by Frances Ridley Havergal, too. I didn’t know which one was blind, so I asked Harold, and he got down the encyclopedia. We read what it said about Fanny Crosby.”
“Well done! Here is the poem which she wrote when she was only eight years old:
“Oh, what a happy soul am I: although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot and I won’t.
“Fanny was two years old when her mother told her very tenderly that she would never be able to see. In spite of her blindness, Fanny learned to dress herself and comb her hair. She could feel her way around the house and wait on herself. She could eat at the table as well as almost anyone.
“When Fanny’s grandmother heard of her blindness, she came to live with Fanny and her mother. Grandma spent much of her time with Fanny. The girl would sit for hours curled up in Grandma’s lap, listening to Bible stories or to descriptions of the clouds and the sunsets and the stars. She especially loved stories about Jesus, and the heavenly Father Who sent His own Son to save us.
“As Fanny and her grandmother walked together through gardens and woods, Grandma would pick a flower and tell the blind girl to feel it and to smell it. In this way Fanny learned to know each flower by name. She also learned to know the birds by their songs. She played with other children, climbed trees, and rode horseback. Her favorite pet was a lamb that went almost everywhere with her, like Mary’s little lamb.
“In the evenings Grandma would read to Fanny from the Bible and from her favorite poets. Fanny memorized many of the poems, as well as some of the psalms and other chapters from the Bible. But she longed to go to school to learn to read out of books. Yet how could a little blind girl ever read books?
“One night she knelt by her bed and prayed, ‘Dear Lord, please show me how I can learn as other children do.’ From that time on, Fanny was sure that God would help her receive what she had asked of Him. One day, not long after this, Fanny’s mother received some good news. A school for the blind had been opened in New York.
“ ‘Thank God!’ Fanny exclaimed; ‘He has answered my prayers, as I knew He would.’
“Fanny was fifteen years old when she entered the school. The books from which the students studied were printed in Braille, a system of raised dots, which a blind person feels with his or her fingers.
“Fanny was the school favorite because she was so cheerful and full of fun. She was also the school poet, and she wrote poems for special occasions. One day Dr. Jones, the school superintendent, called her into his office.
“Among other things, he said this: ‘Do not allow the words of praise from others to make you feel that you are better than they are. Remember, Fanny, whatever talent you possess belongs wholly to God, and you ought to give Him the credit for all that you do.’ He asked Fanny if he had been too blunt.
“ ‘No, sir,’ she replied. ‘You have talked to me as a father, and I thank you very much for it.’
“Fanny never forgot that her ability and talents had been given to her by God.”
Happy Home Stories, by Ella M. Robinson, p. 61–64, (TEACH Services, Inc., 2005).