Behind the Hymn: Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It
Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It was written by Fanny Crosby. You may have also seen the hymn referred to as Redeemed.
Fanny Crosby was a prolific poet and hymn writer.
Fanny Crosby was born on March 24, 1820 in Brewster, New York. At the age of six weeks old, she caught a cold that led to inflammation in her eyes. An incompetent doctor applied a poultice to her eyes that left her blinded.
Crosby wrote her first poem at the tender age of eight. This was the first poem in what would become over 9,000 hymns Fanny Crosby wrote over her lifetime. Some of her other well known songs include To God Be the Glory, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, All the Way the Savior Leads Me, Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, Rescue the Perishing and Blessed Assurance.
From a young age, Crosby learned about the love of God at the knee of her grandmother, who would read to her from the Bible and taught her how to pray.
While Fanny Crosby is considered the hymn queen, she was 40 years old before she began writing hymns. She’d been known for writing Patriotic and political songs, as well as other popular songs and poetry before this time.
In the fall of 1850, Crosby was invited to attend revival meetings with her friend Theodore Camp. At first she hesitated, but that night she had a very disturbing dream.
Fanny described the dream in the following way:
“It seemed that the sky had been cloudy for a number of days and finally, someone came to me and said that Mr. Camp desired to see me at once. Then I thought I entered the room and found him very ill.” The “dying” Camp asked if she would meet him in heaven after their deaths. “Yes, I will,” Fanny said, “God helping me.” This was the response she had given her dying grandmother. In the dream, just before he died, Camp admonished, “Remember, you promised a dying man!” Fanny recorded: Then the clouds seemed to roll from my spirit, and I awoke from the dream with a start. I could not forget those words, “Will you meet me in heaven?” and, although my friend was perfectly well, I began to consider whether I could really meet him, or any other acquaintance, in the Better Land, if called to do so.”
Fanny Crosby attended those camp meetings, which often contained sermons today we classify as hell and brimfire, the blind poet went forward not once but twice over the course of the meetings. She stated that even with the elders laying hands on her she rose both times “without getting happy”. By the third time, Crosby made her way to the altar on November 20th, she was anxious and frustrated. This time she was frantic. “It seemed to me that the light must come then or never.”
Crosby was the only person to answer the call that night, as the elders prayed over her.
The congregation began to sing Isaac Watts’s consecration hymn, “Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed.” At the fifth and last verse—”Here, Lord, I give myself away. Tis all that I can do.”—it happened. Suddenly, Fanny felt “my very soul was flooded with celestial light.” She leaped to her feet, shouting, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” In her ecstasy, “for the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand, and the Lord in the other.”
Crosby wrote Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It in 1882.
Once she was asked, “Is there a special hymn written for your conversion experience?”
Fanny replied, “I would write many hymns to describe the joy of my salvation. The one that stands out the most to me right now is this one.” She began to sing in her beautiful soprano voice, “redeemed, how I love to proclaim it.”
William J. Kirkpatrick, whom Crosby often teamed with for her songs, provided the music for this popular hymn.
The hymn originally had five stanzas, although the last stanza is often omitted from hymnals today.
Crosby embraced her blindness saying, “When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!””
She saw the face of her Savior on February 12, 1915 at the age of 94.
However, she left a massive body of work to inspire and invoke thought and worship to God.
How has God caused you to says Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It?