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Fanny Crosby’s legacy of hymns is music evangelist’s passion

NAPLES, Fla. (BP)–Time has obscured the legacy of Fanny Crosby, who, though blind, penned more than 8,000 hymns. But music evangelist and dramatist Darlene Neptune is determined to reintroduce Crosby to today’s congregations.

“It was the day I visited [Crosby’s] grave that the urgency began to build inside me to tell the story,” said Neptune, of First Baptist Church, Naples, Fla. “I had been studying her life and writing the drama for over four years and had put things on hold; now it was time.”

Neptune travels to churches and seminaries throughout the United States sharing Crosby’s personal life with a generation that is familiar with the hymns, but not the hymn writer.

Donning wire-rimmed sunglasses, gray hair and a 1800s-style dress, Neptune performs a 90-minute drama about Crosby’s life. She sits in a wooden rocking chair, bringing to life the personality of Crosby, drawing from the hymn writer’s autobiography and newspaper interviews for dialogue. She discusses Crosby’s childhood, the inspiration for many of Crosby’s hymns and Crosby’s passion for the homeless.

Neptune also performs several of Crosby’s well-known hymns, including “Blessed Assurance,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” and “Rescue the Perishing.”

Neptune has produced a short video of her drama and recorded an album of the hymns. Currently, Neptune is writing an in-depth study about the life and character of Crosby.

Francis Jane Crosby was born in 1820. Blinded as a baby, Crosby spent the first half of her life as a poet. After her 40th birthday, Crosby began writing songs for the publishing firm of Bigelow & Main, earning $2 per song. She wrote under nearly 100 pseudonyms to hide the fact she was the publishing firm’s only songwriter.

Crosby associated with such personalities as Presidents John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Grover Cleveland. She also knew Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale” brought to America by P.T. Barnum; Henry Clay; and William Cullen Bryant.

Neptune notes that biographer Bernard Ruffin said Fanny Crosby “in her day, was considered by most people to be the greatest in America. As Johann Strauss reigned in Vienna as the ‘Waltz King,’ and John Philip Sousa in Washington as the ‘March King,’ so Fanny Crosby reigned in New York in the later 19th and early 20th century as the ‘Hymn Queen.'”

Crosby died in 1915, just two weeks shy of her 95th birthday, at her home in Bridgeport, Conn.

Neptune began studying Crosby’s life in 1992. After examining Crosby’s interviews and songs, Neptune said she believes that she truly knows Fanny Crosby — a knowledge, along with the Lord, “urging me on, showing me things in her life and the songs that she wants me to find.”
Neptune may be contacted at 1-800-637-2736 or Neptune Ministries Inc., PO Box 1081, Naples, FL 34106. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library. Photo title: BRINGING LEGACY TO LIFE.

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  • Brittany Jarvis