Hymn History: “To The Work!”

2 min

The evening flicker of a nearby street lamp filtered through white curtains into a Victorian sitting room. It had been a busy, full day, and the industrious lady was still hard at work. “Fanny! Sit back and rest!” Fanny Crosby smiled as she thought how many times people had told her to do that. Despite being blind since infancy, she was known to be a hard worker and remained busy at whatever her hands found to do.

One work that God had gifted Fanny Crosby with was writing poetry. Often, poems formed themselves quickly in her mind. Other times it was not easy. Fanny Crosby noted, “There are some days, or at least hours, when I could not compose a hymn if all the world were laid at my feet as a promised recompense.” Yet, even in those uninspiring times, she was diligent to accomplish her tasks. Fanny Crosby wrote hymns for a music publishing house, and they counted on her to supply poems, whether she felt like writing or not. She asked the Lord for inspiration. Eventually, the words would come. Fanny Crosby not only wrote what was asked of her, but she also wrote additional options of poems from which her employers could choose.

Fanny Crosby wrote “To the Work!” in 1869, when she was forty-nine. Eleven years later, at age sixty, she was still “to the work”! This diligent, blind woman ministered at four missions in New York. Undeterred by the unpleasant stench common among those with poor hygiene due to their difficult circumstances, Fanny Crosby willingly sought to help the downcast. “It is the most wonderful work in the world, and it gives such an opportunity for love. That is all people want—love.” With love as her motivation, energy for her work abounded. “Love counts more than anything else. It is wonderful!” she exclaimed.

Fanny Crosby’s diligence brought her before influential people, including four American Presidents. President Cleveland wrote her a letter in honor of her eighty-fifth birthday, which said: 

It is more than fifty years ago that our acquaintance and friendship began; and ever since that time I have watched your continuous and interested labor in uplifting humanity, and pointing out the way to an appreciation of God’s goodness and mercy . . . . As one proud to call you an old friend, I desire to be early in congratulating you on your long life of usefulness, and wishing you in the years yet to be added to you the peace and comfort born of the love of God.

What a commendation to a life diligently lived! The next time you have a task to do, remember the example of a sightless lady who completed her tasks with enthusiastic diligence! 

Sign Up for Email Updates

From Our library

Recent Posts