Summary: This message focuses on the song "Pass Me Not" by Fanny J. Crosby.
Songs Of Our Faith Part 5
Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior
Scriptures: Job 2:7-10;
The song that I have selected for this week is “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior.” As before, I learned some things about how this song came to be written and even more about its author. As I meditated on this song this week I was reminded of times when I have felt I was separated from God’s presence. During those times there seemed to be darkness around me and even though I knew God was there, because of my situation I struggled feeling His presence. I have also had many conversations with others who have felt this way at some point in their past. As I researched this song, I was surprised when I read the history of this song and discovered the circumstances of how it came to be written. Let me share a little history about the author and how she came to write the words to this very popular song.
I. About The Author
The lyrics of this song were written by Frances Jane Crosby. She was born on March 24, 1820 and died on February 12, 1915 at the age of 94. She was an American Methodist rescue mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. She was well-known throughout the United States and by the end of the 19th century she was "a household name" and "one of the most prominent figures in American evangelical life". When she was six weeks old, Crosby caught a cold and developed inflammation of the eyes and became blind. In 1835, just before her 15th birthday, Crosby enrolled at the New York Institution for the Blind (NYIB), a state-financed school. She remained there for eight years as a student, and another two years as a graduate pupil, during which she learned to play the piano, organ, harp, and guitar, and became a good soprano singer.
Crosby described her hymn-writing process in this manner: “It may seem a little old-fashioned, always to begin one's work with prayer, but I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration.” Her capacity for work was incredible and often she would compose six or seven hymns a day. Ms. Crosby’s poems and hymns were composed entirely in her mind before she dictated them. She is best known for her Protestant Christian hymns and gospel songs. She was "the premier hymnist of the gospel song period", and one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 songs with over 100 million copies of her songs printed. Crosby was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1975 and was known as the "Queen of Gospel Song Writers", and as the "Mother of modern congregational singing in America." Some of Crosby's best-known songs include "Blessed Assurance", "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior", "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home", "Praise Him, Praise Him", "Rescue the Perishing", and "To God Be the Glory". Because some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 200 different pseudonyms during her career.
She wrote the lyrics to “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” after speaking at a service at the Manhattan prison in spring 1868. While visiting the prison some of the prisoners expressed their desire for the Lord not to pass them by. Dr. William Doane wrote the music for the song and published it in Songs of Devotion in 1870. "Pass Me Not" became her first hymn to have global appeal.
This song was written by a blind woman who chose to live a life not as some affluent, wealthy song writer, but as a servant in a rescue mission. She was the polar opposite of what we see in the world today; individuals demanding great wealth for their talents. Instead of demanding great wealth, she took her wealth and gave it to those she believed were less fortunate than her. This is the author of the song we will review this morning. I want to set the biblical stage for this song by directing your attention to the book of Job. Please turn with me to Job the second chapter.
II. Job’s Wife
We all know the story of Job. Most often when we hear this story we examine Job and how he walked through his situation. When we look at his wife, we only have one instance when she is mentioned in the story. This morning I want to focus solely on Job’s wife and ask the question: “What if?” Let’s begin reading at verse seven. “Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Vss. 7-10)