Fanny Crosby vs. G.F. Handel

We started this little competition on Ash Thursday with 32 saints. After today’s vote, the field will have been whittled down to 16 remaining saintly souls. But in order to get there we must first make it through the Battle of the Bands as Fanny Crosby faces G.F. Handel. Who will retain the last seat in the Saintly Sixteen before the music stops? Well, that, as always, is up to you.

Yesterday, in the tightest race of Lent Madness 2017, Sarah the Matriarch barely laughed away a valiant challenge from Elizabeth Ann Seton 51% to 49%. See, what have we been saying all along? Your vote counts!

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby wrote more than eight thousand sacred texts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Referred to as the Queen of Gospel Song Writers, she is arguably the most prolific author of American hymns and gospel songs.

Born in 1820 in Brewster, New York, Fanny caught a cold as an infant and developed inflammation in her eyes, which resulted in full-scale blindness. She would later remark, “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” Around her fifteenth birthday, Crosby enrolled at the New York Institution for the Blind, and she began to write hymns and gospel songs.

Crosby attended multiple churches, including an Episcopal church, but she is most closely identified with the Wesleyan Holiness movement. She formally joined Cornell Memorial Methodist Episcopal in 1887. Her hymn texts became so popular that composers of that era would seek her out to find lyrics for their melodies—a reversal of the typical hymn-writing process. Her best-known text, “Blessed Assurance,” was written in this way during a visit to Phoebe Knapp’s home after Crosby heard the tune for the first time.

Crosby described her hymn-writing process by saying, “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.” Crosby could often write six or seven hymns a day, rivaling the output of prolific hymn writers Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley.

While known as a hymn-writer, Crosby was committed to helping others, often donating the proceeds from her writing to rescue missions around New York City. Known as “Aunt Fanny” by the numerous missions she contributed to around the city, she died in 1915. At her request, her tombstone reads: “Aunt Fanny: She hath done what she could; Fanny J. Crosby.”

Collect for Fanny Crosby 
O God, the blessed assurance of all who trust in you: We give you thanks for your servant Fanny Crosby, and pray that we, inspired by her words and example, may rejoice to sing ever of your love, praising our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

— David Sibley

G.F. Handel

George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel was born on February 23, 1685, in Halle, Germany. Handel showed a propensity for music at an early age. However, his father forbade him from dabbling in music, dreaming instead that his son would one day become a civil attorney. Handel did not listen. It is said that Handel (or his mother) smuggled a small clavichord into his room, and he practiced in secret.

On a visit to see his uncle (who was a valet for a duke), Handel surprised the duke with his skills on an organ. The duke persuaded Handel’s father to allow his son to continue studying music. Handel rapidly mastered the pipe organ, harpsichord, oboe, flute, and violin. That mastery led to a prolific writing life that included 42 operas, 29 oratorios, more than 100 cantatas, trios, duets, arias, chamber music, a large number of ecumenical pieces, odes and serenatas, and 16 organ concerti.

Handel initially struggled to establish himself, beginning his career as a church organist and writing pieces that are lost to the world today. Then he became a violinist, supplementing his income as a music teacher. His fame began to grow when he transitioned his main instruments to the organ and harpsichord. Following stints as a musician, he began a foray into composition. His first operatic debut, Almira, was wildly popular. Following two more operas in Hamburg, Handel became dissatisfied with the German music scene. He traveled to Italy and ultimately made his home in London.

He was commissioned to write an oratorio about the Bible, and in 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted on the New Music Hall Stage in Dublin, Ireland. Often considered Handel’s most famous work, Messiah is frequently classified as Christmas music, out of a mistaken belief that it commemorates Christ’s birth. Messiah was in fact written as an ode to all of Christ’s life—annunciation, nativity, passion, and resurrection—proclaiming salvation for all who believe.

Handel died on April 14, 1759. At the time of his death, Handel was completely blind. His life was celebrated in a state funeral with full honors at Westminster Abbey. Handel is honored with a feast day in the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches on July 28.

Collect for G.F. Handel
Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness, you gave to your musician George Frederick Handel grace to show forth your glory in music: may we also be moved to sound out your praises as a foretaste of your eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Anna Fitch Courie

Fanny Crosby vs. G.F. Handel

  • Fanny Crosby (53%, 4,034 Votes)
  • G.F. Handel (47%, 3,621 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,655

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Fanny Crosby—Unknown Artist, Public domain, Project Guttenberg
G.F. Handel—Balthasar Denner, CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

316 Comments to "Fanny Crosby vs. G.F. Handel"

  1. Judy A's Gravatar Judy A
    March 22, 2017 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    I voted for Handel, the composer of the original Jesus Christ, Superstar.

    • Christina Joy Thom's Gravatar Christina Joy Thom
      March 22, 2017 - 10:27 am | Permalink

      Fanny’s hymns have floated around my head day to day for years.

    • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
      March 22, 2017 - 10:43 am | Permalink

      Love this comment!!! Thank you.

    • Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
      March 22, 2017 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      I also voted for Handel. As a professional soprano, I was challenged many times in learning his florid and breath-defying arias. Much as I love JS Bach, it is Handel who leads me to God via his music.

    • Marcia's Gravatar Marcia
      March 22, 2017 - 11:18 am | Permalink

      I was struggling with this choice…but our local college just did a production of Jesus Christ, Superstar, so that swayed me towards Handel.

    • Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
      March 23, 2017 - 12:09 am | Permalink

      Fanny J. Crosby was a good person; Handel, not so much according to my retired music prof. spouse.

  2. March 22, 2017 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    Scott, or Tim, or anyone who knows,
    My wife would like to start voting in Lent Madness, but we have only one email address. Is it okay for both of us to vote from there?

    • Marlene's Gravatar Marlene
      March 22, 2017 - 8:30 am | Permalink

      Just open a new email account at yahoo or gmail. Just use it for this (or junk mail). You can close it after Lent.

      • March 22, 2017 - 8:43 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Marlene.

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        March 22, 2017 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

        You don’t need an email address to vote unless you need to subscribe to get daily reminders to vote. I just go to & read the post of the day & look at the comments & vote.

    • Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
      March 22, 2017 - 9:14 am | Permalink

      Harlie, I can’t speak for the SEC, but I think two votes from the same household is understood to be a family-type vote. My hubby and I have done it before…

      • March 22, 2017 - 9:53 am | Permalink

        Oh, okay! Thanks, Susan.

      • Maureen Murphy's Gravatar Maureen Murphy
        March 22, 2017 - 11:56 am | Permalink

        It’s not so much having separate email accounts as it is multiple votes coming from one IP address is what alerts Scott & Tim to “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

        In our household, we have three generations living under one roof. That being said, I myself & my dad both vote. We have our own email accounts but we both vote separately because there are times we are not in agreement. However, when we are at our differences it brings up good discussions.

        So, I too, hope Tim & Scott do not think the Murphy’s are hacking the system because two votes are coming from one IP address.

        • March 22, 2017 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Maureen, for your response. As with you and your father, my wife and I don’t always agree. I’m for Handel, but she is in the Crosby camp.

    • Beth Owen's Gravatar Beth Owen
      March 22, 2017 - 10:21 am | Permalink

      or one person votes from a work email

      • March 22, 2017 - 10:41 am | Permalink

        We don’t have a work email. We’re retired. But thanks for the suggestion, Beth.

    • Robin Rosbolt's Gravatar Robin Rosbolt
      March 22, 2017 - 11:24 am | Permalink

      Sometimes my husband and I vote from the same computer and sometimes on our phones, if you have a smart phone, one of you can vote from the phone.

      • March 22, 2017 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

        Wow! When I asked for help earlier today, I didn’t expect such multiple replies.
        Thanks, Robin, and everybody!

      • Howard's Gravatar Howard
        March 22, 2017 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Of course if your smartphone is at home and you are on your own WiFi, it will show as coming from the same IP address as your computer. Just vote – I think having two people involved in learning more about the Saints and discussing them is much more valuable than trying to apply the letter of some generic law to this private non-profit endeavor intended to get more people involved in education of our heritage.

  3. Nancy Strong's Gravatar Nancy Strong
    March 22, 2017 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Grew up singing Fanny Crosby’s hymns and playing Handel’s music. Tough choice! I’m going with Fanny.

    • Rev. Steve's Gravatar Rev. Steve
      March 22, 2017 - 8:31 am | Permalink

      I feel the same way Nancy. They should have been seeded #1 in different brackets. To have this as a first round match up is a violation of the 8th Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

      • March 22, 2017 - 9:15 am | Permalink

        Totally agree on this one!

      • Story's Gravatar Story
        March 22, 2017 - 9:40 am | Permalink

        I agree! I wish these two were meeting at the end!

      • Nancy H Stone's Gravatar Nancy H Stone
        March 22, 2017 - 10:26 am | Permalink

        This is really a difficult choice for me. “Blessed Assurance” was my father’s favorite hymn but then I started singing “Messiah” when I was 15 years old and have sung it every year since and I am now 76! I finally chose Handel, hard as it was!

      • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
        March 22, 2017 - 10:42 am | Permalink

        Totally agree!!! After much thought – I mean it!! – Handel won out. Could not desert him. 🙂

        • John Burow's Gravatar John Burow
          March 22, 2017 - 3:33 pm | Permalink

          I much prefer Handel’s work, but Ms. Crosby’s authentic piety touched my heart.

          • Arnold's Gravatar Arnold
            March 22, 2017 - 5:28 pm | Permalink

            This captures my feelings exactly. But in the end, Handel’s Messiah (and other oratorios and court music) embodies the fullness of God’s beauty expressed in music for me. It is one of the pinnacles of Christian art, by which I mean all truly great art, but it also has our Lord as its direct inspiration. I like several of Crosby’s hymns, and I don’t want to put down those who find them very meaningful, but their theology often isn’t very good at all, and for me they are the embodiment (though not the pinnacle) of sentimental Christian kitsch, which ultimately I don’t think is beneficial. Handel it is.

          • Arnold's Gravatar Arnold
            March 22, 2017 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

            This captures my feelings exactly. But in the end, Handel’s Messiah (and other oratorios and court music) embodies the fullness of God’s beauty expressed in music for me. It is one of the pinnacles of Christian art, by which I mean all truly great art, but it also has our Lord as its direct inspiration. I like several of Crosby’s hymns, and I don’t want to put down those who find them very meaningful, but their theology often isn’t very good at all, and for me they are the embodiment (though not the pinnacle) of sentimental Christian kitsch, which ultimately I don’t think is beneficial. Handel hands down.

      • Laura's Gravatar Laura
        March 22, 2017 - 11:10 am | Permalink

        Couldn’t agree more!

      • Rhonda's Gravatar Rhonda
        March 22, 2017 - 11:17 am | Permalink

        I agree!

    • Thomas G. Stama (Athanasios)'s Gravatar Thomas G. Stama (Athanasios)
      March 22, 2017 - 9:46 am | Permalink

      I am right there with you! I voted for Fanny. St. Fanny has a nice ring to it!

      • Heather's Gravatar Heather
        March 22, 2017 - 11:36 am | Permalink

        Same here. A difficult vote, but I went for Fanny Crosby: she did what she could and her piety is a fine example prayer in action.

        • Susan's Gravatar Susan
          March 22, 2017 - 6:46 pm | Permalink

          I love that tombstone epitaph. I hope someday that would be mine. My vote to Fannie.

    • Emily's Gravatar Emily
      March 22, 2017 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes it was indeed a tough choice. I love Hadel’s Messiah & Israel in Egypt, two masterpieces! However the hymns of the church are such a part of who I am and Blessed Assurance opened my heart to Christ over 50 years ago! Had to go with Fanny.

  4. Ruth W.Davis's Gravatar Ruth W.Davis
    March 22, 2017 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Had to vote for Handel. I just love his music. It’s glorious.

    • Rita Griffith's Gravatar Rita Griffith
      March 22, 2017 - 8:44 am | Permalink

      Yes it was Handel for me. Where’re would church music be without him? Handel all the way!

  5. Deborah DeManno's Gravatar Deborah DeManno
    March 22, 2017 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    I voted for Fanny, to raise the recognition level of her gifts and ministries. We sing many different songs to the same purpose.

  6. Shan's Gravatar Shan
    March 22, 2017 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    So not fair pitting 2 musicians against each other in Round One! I voted for Fanny although I’m a huge fan of Handel.

  7. Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
    March 22, 2017 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Aunt Fanny. I had never heard of her before this write-up and admire her dedication and spunk despite her blindness.

  8. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 22, 2017 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I am glad to learn about Fanny Crosby, a progenitor of American “roots music.” She also struggled with disability. But I cannot turn away from Handel, whose grand mastery gave us “Messiah.” Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart are an Alps range over which to pass could take a musician a lifetime, and be well worth the effort. “Great was the company of the preachers.” Crosby was one, but I will vote for the master, and I will remember Crosby’s admonition to begin all projects with prayer. Thank you, Fanny. Today I will vote for Handel. I didn’t vote for St. Cecilia, but today it’s music all the way.

    • Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
      March 22, 2017 - 10:47 am | Permalink

      Strongly agree!

    • Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
      March 22, 2017 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      Beethoven said, Bow the knee to Handel……

    • Kate's Gravatar Kate
      March 22, 2017 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Handel it must be….anyone who can compose such beauty to honor all the aspects of Christ’s life wins my vote. I looked up Fanny for more info…. recognize none of her hymns, alas.

    • Sara L's Gravatar Sara L
      March 22, 2017 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Ah, St Cecilia, you express my thoughts perfectly! I hope that I may quote you today in my daily facebook page comment on the Lent Madness choice.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        March 22, 2017 - 5:11 pm | Permalink

        St Cecilia, the patron saint of music, was in our bracket a week or so ago. My name is Celia, very simply, but yes you may quote my words if they speak to you. (Unless, however, you were talking to the real St Cecilia, in which case I am, alas, a poor substitute, however much I love music.) Blessings to you, this Lent.

        • Sara L's Gravatar Sara L
          March 22, 2017 - 7:56 pm | Permalink

          Thanks! -And I spelled your name correctly when citing you in the post.

          • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
            March 22, 2017 - 9:13 pm | Permalink


  9. March 22, 2017 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    “Blessed Assurance”…Takes me back to my Southern Baptist youth. But I voted for Handel. Every Christmas and Easter his “Messiah” fills our home.

    • Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
      March 22, 2017 - 8:29 am | Permalink

      …and hymns like Blessed Assurance fill my heart every day.

      • March 22, 2017 - 8:46 am | Permalink

        O what a foretaste of glory divine!

        • Karen's Gravatar Karen
          March 22, 2017 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

          Exactly my thought!

      • Rita Griffith's Gravatar Rita Griffith
        March 22, 2017 - 8:51 am | Permalink

        I’m curious to know where an Episcopalian would come upon Fanny Crosby hymns. As far as I can tell there are nine in the Hymnal 1982 and were none in the Hymnal 1940. (I’m not sure as I’m not at home and don’t have the books with me.) I think there might be some in LEVAS, now I think of it. But Blessed Assurance seems not so much a part of our tradition that it would occur to one daily.

        • Rita Griffith's Gravatar Rita Griffith
          March 22, 2017 - 8:53 am | Permalink

          I meant: there are *none* in the Hymnal 1982, not nine.

        • March 22, 2017 - 9:10 am | Permalink

          I believe some of her hymns are in Wonder, Love and Praise and other supplemental hymnbooks.

        • Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
          March 22, 2017 - 9:14 am | Permalink

          Blessed Assurance is in LEVAS II.

        • Ann Fontaine's Gravatar Ann Fontaine
          March 22, 2017 - 10:24 am | Permalink

          Many Episcopalians have come from other traditions- bringing Fanny’s gifts to us. If you ever served in a nursing home- for sure you sing from Fanny’s hymns.

        • Janet in Colorado's Gravatar Janet in Colorado
          March 22, 2017 - 10:27 am | Permalink

          Ahh, but at least in my parish, most Episcopalians didn’t start out that way; our church is refuge for many that have left other denominations, looking for solid faith without dogma and judgementalism. When I highlighted Fanny Crosby at Morning Prayer last year, a former Baptist and a former Presbyterian started singing Blessed Assurance from memory!

        • Hugh Mitchell's Gravatar Hugh Mitchell
          March 22, 2017 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

          I practice in an Anglican (Canadian equivalent of Episcopalian) parish in rural Quebec and we sing bluegrass/gospel hymns, accompanied by guitar and banjo, all the time. Very uplifting.

        • pat jones's Gravatar pat jones
          March 22, 2017 - 3:10 pm | Permalink

          This lifelong Episcopalian came across Fanny Crosby in seminary: CRDS/BH/CTS/SBI in Rochester, NY. The multidenominational worship was just what I needed. “This is my story…”

        • Sara L's Gravatar Sara L
          March 22, 2017 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

          I checked both the 1982 and 1940 Episcopal Hymnals and there are no listings for Fanny Crosby, which is a bit sad. There are numerous other 19th-C American hymns and settings, but none of hers.

  10. Erika Lehmann's Gravatar Erika Lehmann
    March 22, 2017 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    It isn’t unusual that the 2 pitted against each other are both significant in completely different ways, but today’s are especially so. I voted for Fanny Crosby, because her attitude blows me away, but if we were voting for the music, it would have to be GFH.

    • Doctorjan's Gravatar Doctorjan
      March 22, 2017 - 10:23 am | Permalink

      I’m with you there! I admire her “heroic virtue.” She spent her days loving and adoring Jesus despite (or maybe because) of her disability. She used everything she had. Love, love ,love Handel but his gifts seemed more naturally endowed.

  11. Sheila McCloskey Wheltle's Gravatar Sheila McCloskey Wheltle
    March 22, 2017 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    My bracket is beyond busted. Devastated that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton lost yesterday. All my favs except Stephen are out. Augustine of Hippo? Joan of Arc? Cecelia (my name sake)? Reverse psychology…I should vote against my favorite today to assure that my fav wins cuz that’s how my bracket has been working. Vote I will!

    • Barb Bley's Gravatar Barb Bley
      March 22, 2017 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      I’m having the same bad luck with my bracket but m I’ll stick with my favs. GFH!

    • Kate's Gravatar Kate
      March 22, 2017 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I, too, am devastated and a bit miffed at yesterday’s vote as well. If you have a question that might sway your vote, see if you get an answer before you decide! Too many people concerned about St Elizabeth’s children did not read the articles and answers posted. Then there were those who wouldn’t vote for her because she switched religions….so don’t vote for Luther or Calvin or St Paul, or anyone who who was originally not a Christian/ Lutheran, /Episcopalian …all indigenous peoples,etc?? And again, *read* your Biblical authorities about literal vs legendary information!! Sarah was a horror because of her ‘treatment of Hagar’ – and yet ‘she laughed’ when she found out she was pregnant at 90 got hundreds of votes ?? Come on, people! I truly GET sentimental votes (parents or kids with same names or going to a church with same name, etc. but that is upfront and always clarified.) I call for a do over! MEANTIME, onward for today’s vote!!

      • Wilhelmina Jenkins's Gravatar Wilhelmina Jenkins
        March 22, 2017 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

        I feel heartbroken for Hagar. I think she deserves her own place in next year’s brackets.

  12. Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
    March 22, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    I think Handel heard the heart of God and put it in his music. My vote goes to Handel!

  13. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    March 22, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Blessed Assurance v. For Unto Us a Child is Born, etc. Hard choice, but I went with Fanny since George has inspired me but Fanny has consoled me deep down in my soul in so many times of trouble.

    • Suanne's Gravatar Suanne
      March 22, 2017 - 9:23 am | Permalink

      Carolyn – you echoed my thoughts perfectly. Cradling my daughter (when she was a babe) — in the pew at a time of loss — driving alone in LA traffic — Fanny’s hymns have carried me.

      • Jane's Gravatar Jane
        March 22, 2017 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

        “driving alone in LA traffic” tipped the balance in Fanny’s favor for me. Thank you!

    • Beth Owen's Gravatar Beth Owen
      March 22, 2017 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      Amen. Blessed Assurance is one of my favorite hymns

      • Christina Joy Thom's Gravatar Christina Joy Thom
        March 22, 2017 - 10:34 am | Permalink

        Me too Beth.

  14. Fran's Gravatar Fran
    March 22, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    I just had to go with Handel…Messiah is a favorite!

  15. Trudy's Gravatar Trudy
    March 22, 2017 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Handel is one of my very favorite classical composers. His work was so inspired by God.

    • Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
      March 22, 2017 - 8:33 am | Permalink

      …yet Fanny prayed before her hymn writing sessions.

      • Sonia Stevenson's Gravatar Sonia Stevenson
        March 22, 2017 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Who’s to say Handel didn’t?

  16. Lisa's Gravatar Lisa
    March 22, 2017 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    It was another tough choice today, but I am voting for Aunt Fanny because before she began her work she offered up prayer.

  17. Lois Keen's Gravatar Lois Keen
    March 22, 2017 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Handel the underdog, so far.

  18. Newton Lewis's Gravatar Newton Lewis
    March 22, 2017 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Big fan of Handel, Also sang some of Fanny Crosby’s hymns growing up. But being a music history geek my vote goes to Aunt Fanny: she actually wanted to write hymns but GF really wanted to write operas.

    • Lois Keen's Gravatar Lois Keen
      March 22, 2017 - 8:22 am | Permalink

      And I loved opera long before I loved Messiah, so, Handel for me.

      • Marilyn Anderson's Gravatar Marilyn Anderson
        March 22, 2017 - 10:09 am | Permalink

        Me too, Lois!

  19. March 22, 2017 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    “Now we see the violence inherent in the system!”

    After all the indignities that you, Lent madmen, have foisted upon me, why must I — a cradle Southern Baptist — suffer this cruel and heartless decision. It’s not as if Ms. Crosby ever asked to be an Episcopal saint. Alas, though, Handel (who actually did worship in the Church of England, at least) is my all-time fav, and his Messiah the cream among us oratorios. I know what I must do, but I do it with a heavy heart, resting solely upon Christ’s blessed assurance.

    • JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
      March 22, 2017 - 8:27 am | Permalink

      Thank for so wonderfully describing the battle I suffered in my own soul!

    • Claire Fitzmaurice, Quincy MA's Gravatar Claire Fitzmaurice, Quincy MA
      March 22, 2017 - 6:32 pm | Permalink

      LOL from another Monty Python fan.

  20. March 22, 2017 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Forgive the typos in my comment. Of course, I meant “his oratorios.”

  21. Eric Adams's Gravatar Eric Adams
    March 22, 2017 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Handel was a musical genius whose Messiah has brought joy to untold people around the world. As a retired worship leader, however, I found Fanny Crosby to be a real help in bridging the gap between died in the wool traditional hymn lovers and the crazy contemporaries that I identify most with. When our church held a joint traditional/contemporary service I leaned heavily on her body of work for a “middle of the road” blended worship experience.
    I’ve often been driving and will catch myself humming some of her hymns. I guess you could say I’m a fan o’ Fanny.

  22. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    March 22, 2017 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Well, this has been, for me, the most difficult choice, by far! Two such amazing contributors to the music of God’s praise! But Fanny Crosby had me at “Blessed Assurance”, which my beloved Baptist Grannie used to hum or sing at least once per day in my childhood! Now I have an earworm that’s no bother at all, at all!

  23. Sofie's Gravatar Sofie
    March 22, 2017 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Wow, tough choice! How fascinating that by the end of their lives, both of these geniuses were blind. I sang and played Handel’s music in high school, and who doesn’t get shivers listening to “Messiah”? But I’m voting for Fanny, because her story is little-known (I’d never heard it), and because she amazingly managed to bless God for her blindness, and devoted herself to faith and good works. As a woman, she had an even tougher row to hoe than did Handel. Although I expect Handel to win, and I’m sad that Elizabeth Ann Seton lost the last matchup, I’m hoping that Fanny Crosby makes it through.

  24. Jack's Gravatar Jack
    March 22, 2017 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Though there is little in Handel’s bio (or that I know from other sources) that suggest deep Christian devotion, I have to vote for him if only because more often than not come December, I get to stand and sing, “Comfort ye” after the Overture to “Messiah” has been played. One of the joys of being a tenor, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

    • March 22, 2017 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      According to “Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers” by Patrick Kavanaugh “(Handel) was a devout follower of Christ and widely known for his concern for others.”
      “At church he was often seen ‘on his knees, expressing by his looks and gesticulations the utmost fervor of devotion.'”
      “A few days before Handel died, he expressed his desire to die on Good Friday, ‘in the hopes of meeting his good God, his sweet Lord and Savior, on the day of his Resurrection.'”
      “His close friend James Smyth wrote ‘He died as he lived–a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and to man, and in perfect charity with all the world.'”

      • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
        March 22, 2017 - 11:13 am | Permalink

        Thank you!

  25. J's Gravatar J
    March 22, 2017 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Blessed Assurance is my dad’s favorite hymn, and Ms. Crosby penned some of my favorite hymns. Gotta go with her!

  26. Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
    March 22, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Handel, for heaven’s sake! His music is glorious and filled with scripture. On many Sundays when one of the lections is read, all I can hear is Handel’s setting from “Messiah.” I remember sitting in the choir loft on a Saturday afternoon with my mom rehearsing “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to sing several of his areas over the years myself–Christmas, Easter, funerals…. Handel has brought me much joy and comfort all my life.

    Fanny, on the other hand… I’m glad she found a way to make sense of her blindness and live with it. But blaming it on God? That’s terrible theology!

  27. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 22, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    A tough choice. Handel makes my soul soar, but Fanny is like the fishermen Jesus called. Simple people who led unassuming lives and heard the call to cast their nets for Christ. Fanny’s hymns have probably snared many lives for Christ in much the same way.

  28. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 22, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    For Fanny Crosby and George Frideric Handel
    Tune: Engelberg Hymnal ’82, 420 When in our Music God is Glorified

    In music from the heart we glorify
    The God of heaven and earth who is our Light.
    For Fanny and for George we’d like to sing
    The A-word – but it’s Lent!

    Aunt Fanny knew her call was writing hymns.
    Her heart was open though her eyes were dim.
    And with our thankful prayers we’d still proclaim
    The A-word – but it’s Lent!

    His father thought his music was a waste.
    But God had given him a holy gift.
    His music raises hearts and we would sing
    The A-word – but it’s Lent!

    To God who sang all that exists to life.
    To Jesus whose song led to sacrifice.
    And to the Spirit Wind of life we’d sing
    The A-word – but it’s Lent!

    • Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
      March 22, 2017 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      Oh, Diana, you almost made me spit out my coffee, laughing! “The A-word — but it’s Lent!” Hilarious!!!!

      • andrea's Gravatar andrea
        March 23, 2017 - 12:28 am | Permalink

        I agree! Thank you, Diana.

    • Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
      March 22, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

      Oh, SNAP! The A-word! Go, Diana.

    • MartyV's Gravatar MartyV
      March 22, 2017 - 8:42 am | Permalink

      I love the last verse – the imagery of God singing everything to life will stay with me! Thank you.

      • Mollie Douglas Turner+'s Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner+
        March 22, 2017 - 9:19 am | Permalink

        Check out the “creation” story in the first chapter of JRR Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion”–it says much the same thing, breathtakingly.

        And once again,will somebody please give Diana a medal?!!!?

      • Diana's Gravatar Diana
        March 22, 2017 - 9:26 am | Permalink

        The idea of God singing all of Creation is not original with me. I borrowed it from C.S. Lewis (The Magician’s Nephew) and suspect he was also the recipient of the gift from someone else. It is an image that has captured my heart and imagination and filled me with deepest gratitude.

        • Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
          March 22, 2017 - 9:53 am | Permalink

          Hmmm, Has C.S. Lewis been a nominee in LM?

          • Gene Kleppinger's Gravatar Gene Kleppinger
            March 22, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

            He won the Golden Halo in 2011.

      • Robert Andrews-Bryant's Gravatar Robert Andrews-Bryant
        March 22, 2017 - 11:31 am | Permalink

        Read The Magician’s Nephew the 6th (in order of writing) book of The Chronicles of Narnia. It has a beautiful description of Aslan singing Narnia into being!

    • Karen Mills's Gravatar Karen Mills
      March 22, 2017 - 8:54 am | Permalink

      Go Diana. Another wonderful way to start the day singing the song for every church musician! Well done and perfect! “Alle….” WHOOPS!

    • Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
      March 22, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      This is hilarious! Alle- never mind!

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 22, 2017 - 9:48 am | Permalink

      These just get better and better. Go, Diana!

    • Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
      March 22, 2017 - 9:56 am | Permalink


    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      March 22, 2017 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

      I think Fanny’s spirit is visiting. A-word! A-word.

  29. Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
    March 22, 2017 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Handel, not only for his many compositions on sacred themes, but also for his generosity to the Foundling Hospital and other charities.

  30. Barbara Ross's Gravatar Barbara Ross
    March 22, 2017 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Tough choice for a choral singer who equally enjoys singing the classics and old-time gospel hymns. But I had to go with Handel, not just for The Messiah but many other glorious oratorios on biblical themes. One of my memorable singing experiences was “Esther” with a combined choir from an Episcopal church and a synagogue.

  31. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 22, 2017 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    I have to go with the classics, and one cannot get more classical than Handel. Can never get enoigh of that glorious music.

  32. Rhee M Howard's Gravatar Rhee M Howard
    March 22, 2017 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    I see what you did there ~ two composers, both became blind … But they are not in the same league, seriously! — Handel, obviously!!!

  33. Timothy J's Gravatar Timothy J
    March 22, 2017 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Fanny, for “She hath done what she could.”

  34. Joanne's Gravatar Joanne
    March 22, 2017 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    It’s Fanny today! I learned about Miss Crosby at my mother’s knee and ONLY Fanny J. Crosby songs were used in my mother’s funeral at her bequest, she even had a list for us to use.

  35. Sue's Gravatar Sue
    March 22, 2017 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    While I love Handel’s music, learning about Crosby’s prayer before writing, appreciation for her blindness in allowing her to do what God called her to and her devotion to her work is inspiring.

  36. Susan Fisher's Gravatar Susan Fisher
    March 22, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Is there a professional sadist in a backroom somewhere making up these evil wicked matchups?! The choices are never all that easy, but the “Battle of the Bands” was rougher than usual. I almost always pick the woman if I have no other way to pick, but today I went Handel. “Messiah” was my first breakout from “kids’ choir music” and probably a big reason I’ve never stopped singing for long.

    • Robert Andrews-Bryant's Gravatar Robert Andrews-Bryant
      March 22, 2017 - 11:34 am | Permalink

      How about the year when the brothers Wesley were opposed in the first round? Every year, it seems we get at least 1 such pairing. Sadism? Hmmm….

  37. Spencer's Gravatar Spencer
    March 22, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I can sing along with Blessed Assurance. The Messiah, not so much.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 22, 2017 - 11:16 am | Permalink

      Join the choir and you almost certainly will be able to sing along with at least some of it.

      While I am a fierce partisan and admirer of G.F. Handel, I think I speak for many in church music ministries when we wish for an Easter morning service that does not feature the *H-Word* Chorus.

  38. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    March 22, 2017 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Fanny because she thanked God for her blindness feeling that sight would have dimmed her devotion. And she used her earnings to help those in need, too.

  39. John The Beard's Gravatar John The Beard
    March 22, 2017 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    This is nearly as tough as yesterday’s vote – this time I’m voting for the underdog, Fanny, as I live a stone’s throw from her birthplace.

  40. Denise Evans's Gravatar Denise Evans
    March 22, 2017 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    I agree with Susan Fisher. When I saw this matchup, I said, “who does this?” They’re both amazing. I grew up with my Dad playing Handel’s Messiah every Sunday on the stereo while we got ready for church. Then, at church, we”d probably sing a song written by Fanny Crosby! I had to go with Fanny.

  41. Deacon Dorothee's Gravatar Deacon Dorothee
    March 22, 2017 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Hey, SEC you’re mixing your metaphors! Battle of the Bands and Musical Chairs! BTW, I had to vote for my homegirl Fanny – Go NY!

  42. Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
    March 22, 2017 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I pondered this vote for a while. Both are worthy. I finally voted for Handel because his work continues to speak to many beyond his time, place, language, religion.

  43. Christopher's Gravatar Christopher
    March 22, 2017 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    This lifelong church musician voted Crosby. She did important stuff. Händel wrote some lovely opera and is most famous for a rather tedious (at least to perform) oratorio. Easy choice.

  44. Victoria Goss's Gravatar Victoria Goss
    March 22, 2017 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Handel wrote the music and often the words, and at least wove his music into the words so they would sing in our hearts forever. I had not heard of Fanny – in another match-up she’d get my vote – and I honor her work. May they both continue to sing with us.
    Handel for me.

  45. Meggan's Gravatar Meggan
    March 22, 2017 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    This is my story, this is my song
    praising my saviour all the day long…

  46. March 22, 2017 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Tough choice. I loved Fanny’s collect, and thought that would break the tie, but then read Handel’s, and his was equally musical. Finally chose Fanny, cause she was a New Yorker. I always root for the home team.

  47. Debbie Northern's Gravatar Debbie Northern
    March 22, 2017 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Another tough choice!! Went with Fanny because I felt that not only did she compose hymns for congregations, she also had a strong faith and mercy to the less fortunate.

  48. Dorothy's Gravatar Dorothy
    March 22, 2017 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    No contest. HALLELUJAH!!!

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 22, 2017 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

      [covers ears]
      La-la-la-la-la . . .

  49. Kelley's Gravatar Kelley
    March 22, 2017 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but so much of what Fanny wrote strikes me as so schmaltzy that it loses much of its sincerity. Sort of like if Eddie Haskell started writing hymn texts. Herr Handel for me today.

    • Emily Correll's Gravatar Emily Correll
      March 22, 2017 - 9:14 am | Permalink

      I’m with Kelley here. Although I know all verses of “Blessed Assurance” by heart, Handel’s music speaks to the deepest parts of my soul. I still can’t read parts of the Bible without hearing the “Messiah” in the background of my mind.

    • Claire Fitzmaurice, Quincy MA's Gravatar Claire Fitzmaurice, Quincy MA
      March 22, 2017 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

      I such a sucker for a smart ass. Thank you for the Eddie Haskell reference. Keeping it real.

    • Lynn Baker's Gravatar Lynn Baker
      March 22, 2017 - 11:05 pm | Permalink

      I so agree about the music quality. But trying to set aside my personal preferences and look at the qualities of the writers. Still thinking at 8 pm.

  50. Kandice's Gravatar Kandice
    March 22, 2017 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    Devastated over the loss of Mother Seton yesterday…yet I will press on! Today I vote for Handel….Halleluiah!!

    • Allison Askins's Gravatar Allison Askins
      March 22, 2017 - 9:58 am | Permalink

      I am with you, Kandice. Had so hoped Mother Seton would pull ahead.
      And now for today … As one who has visited Hamburg several times and has a dear friend there, I must vote for Handel. I also prefer classical music to the old-time form of hymns. They are dear in their own way, but Handel’s work is glorious. I also feel I must celebrate a man who listened to his most authentic self and followed that leading. It is a hard thing for any of us to do. Handel it is! The A-word.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 22, 2017 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

      H-word & A-word are put away for Lent. Let them rest up for Easterday.

  51. Jan's Gravatar Jan
    March 22, 2017 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    Handel so much music

  52. Jim Whittington's Gravatar Jim Whittington
    March 22, 2017 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    I’m really touched by the fact that Fanny prayed before starting to work on a hymn. This is a great reminder that we should seek Christ’s guidance and blessing in all of our endeavors.

  53. Ann E's Gravatar Ann E
    March 22, 2017 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    Handel, for his sublime music that lifts the soul heavenward.

  54. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 22, 2017 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Voted for Fanny, as my strategy this year with Lent Madness is to support the lesser knowns. Celebrated Bach’s 332nd birthday yesterday so Handel clearly is well known and loved for his musical gifts and talents. All the best to Aunt Fanny today!

    • Gene Kleppinger's Gravatar Gene Kleppinger
      March 22, 2017 - 10:54 am | Permalink

      You mentioned Bach’s birthday — it’s fine to celebrate it on either 21 or 31 March. The church records of his birth in 1685 show 21, using the “Old System” (Julian calendar), but the switch to the Gregorian calendar (“New System”) makes that date 31 instead. The same thing goes for G. F. Handel, on either 23 February (OS) or 5 March (NS). I think we don’t know which dates Johann and George used. Switching the calendars was a long process (over 300 years) due to political and religious rivalries. No such puzzle exists for Fanny Crosby, whose birthday we can celebrate on Friday.

  55. Shelley M.'s Gravatar Shelley M.
    March 22, 2017 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    As a Teacher of the Visually Impaired, in honor of all my students and former students: go, Fanny!

  56. March 22, 2017 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    I adore Handel’s compositions far too much to possibly vote against him. Sorry Fanny.

  57. Karen K's Gravatar Karen K
    March 22, 2017 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    I’m stunned by the number of people who never heard of Fanny Crosby. And while I love the Messiah and appreciate the talents of Handel, it was Fanny’s attitude toward life despite her circumstances that clinched my vote for her. [By the way, if you ever have the chance to see “Blessed Assurance” signed by a skilled deaf interpreter you will never forget it.]

  58. Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
    March 22, 2017 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    To be blunt about it, I’m seeing this as a choice between quality of music or quality of life. Fanny lived a holy life, unlike Georg. But Georg (using the German spelling) wrote such stunningly beautiful and superb music. The Messiah is one of my desert island things. So do I vote for the jerk who was a genius, or the holy woman who wasn’t?

    • March 22, 2017 - 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Freeman, what do you mean when you say that Handel didn’t lead “a holy life”? Are you referring to his famously short temper? Years ago I read an account of an altercation he had with a male singer : The man threatened to seize Handel’s violin and jump up and down on it until it was destroyed. Handel replied “Pray do so, sir. I’ll wager more people will come to see you jump than to hear you sing.”
      In an earlier post I quoted Patrick Kavanaugh’s “Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers”. Another quote from that work: “A confirmed bachelor, Handel was reputed to swear in several languages when moved to wrath (usually by singers). At the same time, he was equally quick to admit his own fault and apologize.”
      “Handel personally conducted more than thirty performances of ‘Messiah’. Many of these concerts were benefits for the Foundling Hospital, of which Handel was a major benefactor.”
      “Known universally for his generosity and concern for those who suffered, Handel donated freely to charities even in times when he faced personal financial ruin.”
      “Handel’s morals were above reproach.”
      Like all Christians, he had his faults. But in spite of them, he strove to follow his Lord as best he could.

  59. March 22, 2017 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    I love Messiah. I love it at Christmas, I love it at Easter, and I’ll probably be listening to it at work today, thanks to Lent Madness. But I’m voting for Fanny. Not so much for Blessed Assurance, but for Do Not Pass Me By (which probably isn’t the name of the hymn). I first heard that hymn at a very dark time in my life, and singing it was the closest I could come to praying for a while. So this cradle Episcopalian, who never sang one of Fanny’s hymns in church, is voting for her with gratitude.

  60. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 22, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Love Handel but Aunt Fanny makes ME sing! Will be humming Blessed Assurance all day now that the brain worm is there– not that I mind ’cause it will make me mindful of my wonderful childhood singing ‘sing-able’ hyms.

  61. March 22, 2017 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid both bios are rather lacking today. In particular, no mention that The Messiah was written as a charity work, to raise money for people in debtors’ prison. It was considered ‘pop’ music, too modern to be performed in a church!

    • Judy F. N.'s Gravatar Judy F. N.
      March 22, 2017 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

      That is really helpful information. Fanny had the edge because of her charity towards the poor but now I feel better about voting for Handel.

  62. March 22, 2017 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Sad to learn Mother Seton lost yesterday. Growing up Southern Baptist, sang many Aunt Fanny songs which are beautiful, however, Handel’s music makes my heart sing. What would we do without the majestic “Messiah.” So, Handel for me today.

  63. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 22, 2017 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Handel gets my vote. But Fanny Crosby seems to have given me today’s blessed earworm, all the day long!

  64. Keith Miller's Gravatar Keith Miller
    March 22, 2017 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    I vote for Handel, not just because of his great work of the Messiah, but because that work was written as a charity. The money raised was used to free people from debtors prison. The music was also deemed to secular and was not performed in churches. This music was written to glorify God in practical service to the poor.

  65. Timothy Cole-French's Gravatar Timothy Cole-French
    March 22, 2017 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    Fanny Crosby’s story was so interesting to me! What a enthusiast Christian! She got my vote.

  66. March 22, 2017 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    Terribly hard choice! Another match up to drive us all crazy. It’s a Lenten discipline not to have nasty thoughts about the SEC who does this. Being a non-musician in a family of musicians I can be thrilled by Handel’s works but I can actually hum Fanny’s. Go girl.

  67. March 22, 2017 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Gotta love the lectionary this week as it challenges us to “see” anew. Referring to the man’s blindness, Jesus said, “Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines…” [The Message translation of John 9:3-4). This seems to be what Fanny Crosby conveyed in the explanation of what her blindness meant and in how she lived her life. In my humble opinion, that is.

    • Jeanine's Gravatar Jeanine
      March 22, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

      I too connected Fanny to this week’s lectionary and so voted for her.

  68. JMart's Gravatar JMart
    March 22, 2017 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    I’m with Handel. My beloved father sang all his life in a choral society. I am now the proud owner of his copy of the Messiah all marked up with his personal notations. As a child I remember attending rehearsals of said piece. That music still moves me today and evokes marvelous images of my favorite tenor. How could it not be Handel for me?

  69. Erin's Gravatar Erin
    March 22, 2017 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    What a world we would have if we all did what we could. Fanny has my vote.

  70. Walker Shaw's Gravatar Walker Shaw
    March 22, 2017 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!” vs “SDG”—Soli Deo Gloria, “To God alone the glory”. Well “Hallelujah”, I voted for Fanny.

  71. Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
    March 22, 2017 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Love Handel’s music but had to go with “Aunt Fanny’s” Blessed Assurance.

  72. Wilson Anthony's Gravatar Wilson Anthony
    March 22, 2017 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Through Messiah Handel said that he wanted not just to touch people, but to change them. He’s got my vote.

  73. Linda from St. Ed's's Gravatar Linda from St. Ed's
    March 22, 2017 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    My vote must go with Aunt Fanny today. I remain however a big fan of Handel and in January was touched to see the site in Dublin where his Messiah was first performed (unfortunately the original building no longer stands).

  74. kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
    March 22, 2017 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    If Handel had written just the Largo from Xerxes it would have been enough to get my vote.

  75. Story's Gravatar Story
    March 22, 2017 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Oh man, this was a hard choice. I wish these two had been matched up much later on! I went with Handel though, because I think his music transcends the Church. It becomes an invitation for those outside the Church to take a closer look at what’s inside.

    • March 22, 2017 - 10:57 am | Permalink

      Excellent observation, Story. “Messiah” alone, through performances and recordings, has brought the Gospel to untold numbers of people.

  76. Beth Pottle's Gravatar Beth Pottle
    March 22, 2017 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Blessed Assurance – One of the best hymns ever – Thank you Fanny!

  77. Robert Klingler's Gravatar Robert Klingler
    March 22, 2017 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    I love the music of Handel, it is full of beauty and light, but the writer said nothing of his faith. Fanny had great faith and gave freely to the poor. If we’re truly looking for saints, she gets my vote because she lived out her faith.

    • March 22, 2017 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, the bio concentrated on Handel’s musical accomplishments. But he was a devout Lutheran and a generous supporter of the poor. He, too, lived out his faith.

      • William Loring's Gravatar William Loring
        March 22, 2017 - 3:32 pm | Permalink

        Handel was raised as a Lutheran but after following the Hanovers to England he became both a British subject and an Anglican, serving as one of the great organists at Westminster Abbey. He is also reported to have said, after finishing the Messiah, that he saw ‘the heavens opened, and the great God himself.”

  78. Pam Nesbit's Gravatar Pam Nesbit
    March 22, 2017 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    The way I see it, we’re voting for the person, not the music. Handel’ music is surely a gift to the world, but Aunt Fanny gave the proceeds from her beautiful work to the poor. Fanny – no contest!

    • March 22, 2017 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Actually, Handel was quite generous in his donations to charities. In fact, “Messiah” was first performed as a charity benefit. And many subsequent performances as well, all under the baton of Handel himself.

      • Jan Curtis's Gravatar Jan Curtis
        March 22, 2017 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Harlie Youngblood: Didn’t know Handel had become an Anglican. When we lived in England, I missed Bach in church. We came home…Lutheran, here…and I missed Handel! Checked my hymnals: three Fanny Crosby hymns between them (four hymnals), and one Handel, but over a dozen Wesley ones. I suspect, given when she lived, that her hymns were general American Protestant in content, so wouldn’t really suit a Lutheran congregation, We sing “Blessed Assurance” and, for Lent, “Jesus, Keep me Near the Cross” There’s another one in the “oldest” hymnal, published 1958. Handel got my vote.

        • March 22, 2017 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

          I became an Anglican when I was 24, but I was raised Baptist and I remember that we sang “Blessed Assurance”. But the other Crosby titles people have been mentioning don’t ring a bell. Is it possible, in my own Baptist congregation, that “Blessed Assurance” was the only Crosby hymn we sang? Dunno!

  79. Lee W.'s Gravatar Lee W.
    March 22, 2017 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Fanny J. Crosby hymns are in many ways a big part of the soundtrack of my childhood, as I was raised in the Baptist tradition. I am happy to see her recognized for the prodigious talent that she possessed and used for God’s glory. “Aunt Fanny” gets my vote today, but that in no way diminishes the inspiration I have derived from listening to Handel’s oratorios, especially The Messiah! Tough choice today, but I had to go with my roots!

  80. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    March 22, 2017 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    Even though I’m happy to sing “Blessed Assurance” from time to time, & I respect Fanny Crosby’s amazing body of work despite her blindness, the quality of music of the 2 composers persuades me that Handel’s work is absolutely heavenly. I have to go w/ Handel.

  81. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 22, 2017 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    In my #Resist mode, I’m choosing the woman against the man whenever that is the choice. Everyone knows about the man here. Few have heard of Aunt Fanny even though we know her hymns. A gentle, unsung hero. Go Fanny!

    • Lauren D's Gravatar Lauren D
      March 22, 2017 - 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been mulling this decision all day, and this same sentiment you shared has been in the back of my mind. As a choir nerd through and through Handel is a bit of a big deal, BUT Fanny’s story, all the way to her epitaph has been tugging on me. Thanks for helping me choose!

  82. March 22, 2017 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Fanny for very parochial reasons: she was born in Brewster, NY right next to Danbury, CT.

  83. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 22, 2017 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    There are hymns, and there is Handel’s “Messiah”. Handel for me.

  84. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 22, 2017 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    I’m with those who suggested that we have a “Like” option on these comments. So many wonderful thoughts, touches of humor and faithful reflections.

  85. DiAnne Walsh's Gravatar DiAnne Walsh
    March 22, 2017 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    I voted for Fanny. Inspiring and hopefully not forgotten.

  86. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 22, 2017 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Handel for me too. I bet I know some of Fanny Crosby’s hymns, but I don’t know they are by her. Loved hearning about her though.

  87. March 22, 2017 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    For Fanny. Handel was the greater musician. Fanny the more saintly spirit.

  88. Mrs. B.'s Gravatar Mrs. B.
    March 22, 2017 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Have to go with Rita and Kelley. Like Susan Maurine, my mother was a church soloist and I also can still hear her lovely mezzo-soprano voice singing “I. Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”

  89. Dave's Gravatar Dave
    March 22, 2017 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Tough choice but went with Fanny. I agree with the sentiment that this is a terrible first round matchup. Our Blessed SEC, just as the NCAA, makes some serious seeding gaffs.

  90. Michael M's Gravatar Michael M
    March 22, 2017 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    This one is a tough call! I enjoy many of Crosby’s hymns that we sing today, but also my parish is currently studying Handel’s Messiah and his inspirations in the music.

  91. March 22, 2017 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    Major computer issue this morning! I tried to vote but cannot tell if it was registered as my little “wheely thing” just keeps going round and around! I do not want to be cast into utter darkness so, that said I did not try to vote a second time. I have tried to vote for Handel as I love singing and listening his music please know I have tried to be honest.

  92. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 22, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    When I was 12 years old, my mother, a music teacher in public school, had saved up enough money to buy the best record-player available at the time, a Magnavox. To go with it, she bought a complete recording of Handel’s “Messiah”. We listened to it and sang along while doing housework on weekends, and played short selections at other times when we had time. As a result, I became familiar with the entire work, not just the main choruses and soprano solos. (She had taught me “Come Unto Him” at age 8, and I sang that at her funeral.) When I started seminary, I had to confess that I knew more from “Messiah” than directly from the Bible. As a lifelong Methodist, I don’t understand the prohibition of “Alleluia” during Lent. It is my word of praise, comfort, inspiration, assurance, and joy in every season of the year and of life. I intend to have it sung at my funeral. For all this, and much more, I cast my vote for Handel.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 22, 2017 - 11:21 am | Permalink

      I think we avoid using the word so that at the Great Vigil when we sing it again it means even more to us. You are right, it is a word of comfort and great joy.

      And you can have whatever you like sung at your funeral in whatever season. I have a friend who intends to have “In the Bleak Midwinter” sung at hers even if it is August in southern California and 117 degrees outside.

  93. March 22, 2017 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    They both lift me to the heights. But Fanny starts from the depths. Plus, everyone can sing her stuff. Aunt Fanny it is.

    • Dawn's Gravatar Dawn
      March 22, 2017 - 10:38 am | Permalink

      I had to vote for Handel this morning in honor of my aunt, Margaret A. Weber, of Toledo Ohio. Pianist, organist, composer, poet. She is responsible for my love of music in general and organ music in particular. I spent many hours with her, sitting on the organ bench learning to turn pages for her while watching hands and feet cover the keyboards.

  94. Grace Cangialosi's Gravatar Grace Cangialosi
    March 22, 2017 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Handel has received numerous honors for centuries, while Fanny Crosby remains virtually unknown outside of gospel song and church music circles. For that reason, I think she deserves our votes.

  95. Thomas Van Brunt's Gravatar Thomas Van Brunt
    March 22, 2017 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Fanny. I’d love have my sight back. Hanhdle’s music is far far better.

  96. Celia Cole's Gravatar Celia Cole
    March 22, 2017 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    I began reading with the assumption that Handel would get my vote. But the description of Fanny’s devotion to God was what won my vote to her.

  97. Bill Thewalt's Gravatar Bill Thewalt
    March 22, 2017 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Handel because I had researched him prior to our community’s annual Messiah Sing many Christmas seasons ago. I learned the breadth and depth of his musical accomplishments.

  98. Allie's Gravatar Allie
    March 22, 2017 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Aunt Fanny. I love both their music, but in the post I was struck by Fanny’s disability advocacy and pride– that she wouldn’t take sight if she were offered it. Since that’s still a radical idea today, I had to go with her.

  99. Jennifer Seaver's Gravatar Jennifer Seaver
    March 22, 2017 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    Hallelujah chorus by Handel makes this a no brainer for me.

  100. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    March 22, 2017 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    Handel in honor of my father, the music teacher. Though my mother the Methodist loved many of the hymns I now realize Fanny penned.

  101. Jane of England's Gravatar Jane of England
    March 22, 2017 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    As one whose soul has been stirred countless times by Messiah, and as a frequent visitor to the Handel House Museum in London (which I highly recommend as it co-exists with Jimi Hendrix’s former flat), my vote goes to Handel.

  102. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 22, 2017 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve been waiting for this contest ever since I saw it in the bracket, and I CANNOT BELIEVE that Fanny is beating Georgie Fred, even by a vanishingly slim margin! Speaking as an unrepentant musical snob, I could very well do without Crosby altogether and barely know any of her hymns (none of which occur in Hymnal 1982), but there are many passages from Isaiah that I cannot read without singing them to music from Messiah.

    • Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
      March 23, 2017 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Amen to that.

  103. Grace Cangialosi's Gravatar Grace Cangialosi
    March 22, 2017 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    I did comment earlier, but I just have join the ranks of those who have been blessed–or cursed–with an ear worm!
    A quick story, if I may: after a service at the ecumenical Church of the Savior in DC, Paul Clasper of Grace Cathedral in SF and his wife and I were driving back to Virginia Seminary, singing some of the hymns from the service. As we crossed the bridge into Virginia, I remarked that we were probably the only Episcopalians in the world who could sing all the verses of “Blessed Assurance a cappella, by memory–and in harmony!

    • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
      March 22, 2017 - 10:53 am | Permalink

      Probably. But I rather think that only Episcopalians even _would_ sing all the verses, a cappella, by memory, in harmony!

  104. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 22, 2017 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Going for Fanny. Handel’s music is awesome, but he’s had three centuries of superstardom. Love her choice of words for her tombstone. May we all be able to say that at our ends.

  105. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 22, 2017 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    i grew up singing so many Fanny J Crosby songs in church that I couldnt not vote for her. As a musician and singer she is one of my favorite saints. Hard choice today-Handel also a favorite for me, but in the end went with Fanny in honor of songwriters everywhere.

  106. March 22, 2017 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    I’m a long-time Fanny Crosby fan, so this was a “no brainer” for me. She knew Scripture so well that she had the ability to create a new text to fit a previously composed tune — in effect writing the hymn backwards. I played some of her music in a sermon you can find at, at the bottom of the page.

  107. Kim Crecca's Gravatar Kim Crecca
    March 22, 2017 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    I definitely agree that these two #1 seeds should not have been pitted against each other. Once again the Bracket Baron is laughing maniacally at our quandry. Two absolutely wonderful musicians, two blind people, two incredible servants of God and we have to choose between them. This was the most difficult choice so far. Handel’s Messiah and the A-word chorus continues to make my spirit soar every time I hear it. Blessed Assurance brings comfort and peace to my heart. Had to go with soaring spirits but it was a tough choice. Handel…hands down.

  108. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 22, 2017 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Wow! Two people, greatly talented by God, who used their gifts to bring beauty and spirituality to others, and who were blind! (In Handel’s case, later in life.) One who created melody, the other, lyrics! I’ve got to say: you guys really know how to match them up! I voted for Fanny; as soon as I started reading her, I loved her: her ability to find beauty everywhere although she could see it only with the eyes of her soul, her goodness to others, her great writing talent. In my Lutheran Church we sing a lot, and Blessed Assurance is one of my favorites! So many of us complain about little things; here is a blind woman who did so much good and lived with joy. I’m totally rooting for her to win the Golden Halo! I deeply respect Handel too; his determination to learn to play an instrument, and The Messiah is Awesome!

  109. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 22, 2017 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    While I admire Ms. Crosby’s deep love of God and prodigious output of lyrics, I just had to vote for Mr. Handel. Too many years of singing and playing and listening to his glorious music.

    Now if Fanny had written lyrics to George’s tunes….

  110. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 22, 2017 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Far from complaining, I congratulate the SEC on pitting these two musicians against each other in the first round. This way we will definitely have a musician in the Saintly 16. Look at what happened to Cecilia.

  111. Jean Louis LeCocq's Gravatar Jean Louis LeCocq
    March 22, 2017 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    I was torn with this one. How does one vote against the composer of the Hallelujah Chorus? At the same time, Crosby’s faith was unquestionable. This was a tough one.

  112. Lauri Kelso's Gravatar Lauri Kelso
    March 22, 2017 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    I voted for Handel for one reason: Messiah has brought many church choirs and musicians together to sing for the community of which our church was also invited to participate…and was one performance I know my Mother enjoyed immensely…

  113. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    March 22, 2017 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    Grew up in the Baptist church singing Fanny Crosby hymns. The “Messiah” composer was hard to pass up, but I went with Blessed Assurance!

  114. March 22, 2017 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    I love Handel’s Messiah, but Fanny’s story and her positivity win out. Her epitaph certainly would have broken the tie had there been one.(I should also disclose that I come from a Wesleyan Holiness background myself, so Fanny’s kind of a superhero of the denomination.)

  115. Rebecca Rea's Gravatar Rebecca Rea
    March 22, 2017 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    It never occurred to me that I would vote for Fanny Crosby today. As far as the music goes, I give it to Handel hands down. But, I was inspired to read more of Fanny’s life. She was an amazing woman and lived out a clear Christian imperative, serving the marginalized of her time. Her story inspires me this morning.

  116. Robin Michel's Gravatar Robin Michel
    March 22, 2017 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    We sing her in our Baptist church nearly every week. Wonderful, inspirational and each one totally unique in style. Happy and uplifting. And I grew up in the town next to Brewster! Amazing what she accomplished, especially when considering her era.

  117. Bonnie Caudell's Gravatar Bonnie Caudell
    March 22, 2017 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    You do not make it easy! But Hallelujah!! often rings out with life’s victories and reminders of God’s goodness.

  118. Bonnie Caudell's Gravatar Bonnie Caudell
    March 22, 2017 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    You don’t make it easy. But HALLELUJAH often rings out in my mind when I am reminded of God’s goodness to me.

  119. Janice McLemore's Gravatar Janice McLemore
    March 22, 2017 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    Again, it’s not fair to pit these two against each other. I almost didn’t vote, but remember being deeply moved by the Messiah over my life time.

  120. Mike E.'s Gravatar Mike E.
    March 22, 2017 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    I voted for Handel, because it is impossible to read Isaiah 9:6 without humming,
    “Aaand the Gov’-ern-ment’ will be up-on his shou-ou-ou-ou-ou-oulders. . .”

    • Gretchen Pritchard's Gravatar Gretchen Pritchard
      March 22, 2017 - 11:54 am | Permalink

      ” … and his NAME shall be call-ed: [beat] WON-derful! COUN-selor! the migh-ty GOD, the everlasting FATH-er, the PRINCE of peace!”

  121. Megan Devlin's Gravatar Megan Devlin
    March 22, 2017 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    The battle of the blind musicians! Much as I love Handel’s Messiah, in looking at the amount of their work that was focused on religious/spiritual music, it seems like Fanny is slightly more appropriate to advance to the “Saintly Sixteen”.

  122. Gretchen Pritchard's Gravatar Gretchen Pritchard
    March 22, 2017 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    This one’s an easy one for me. I certainly respect Fanny Crosby for her life and gospel dedication, but between the two of them, for me as a choral singer, it is Handel (and not just Messiah; also his funeral music for Queen Caroline, his coronation anthems, his Foundling Hospital Anthem, his oratorio Israel in Egypt, etc. etc.) that have given me a foretaste of the heavenly choir. Also I firmly believe it is by the grace of the Holy Spirit that the whole Good News of scripture, wonderfully condensed by Handel’s librettist Charles Jennens in Messiah, has been given a lasting voice from generation to generation in the English-speaking world.

  123. Tammie Taylor's Gravatar Tammie Taylor
    March 22, 2017 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    At last, the day I can offer support to the saint I nominated for inclusion on this year’s slate of 32, Fanny J. Crosby! I truly appreciate the classic music contribution Handel made to the world — but I also know generations of Christians have and continue to hold Fanny’s hymns in their hearts, relying on those words to express joy, bring peace or comfort a hurting soul. And Blessed Assurance is but one of Fanny’s masterpieces many hold dear – how about “I am Thine O Lord” (draw me nearer)”? “Tell me the Story of Jesus” (write on my heart every word)? “To God be the Glory” (great things he hath done)? I could go on and on – her catalogue is amazing. So please join me in honoring Fanny Crosby first for recognizing her gift as God-given and then to faithfully use it for His glory her whole life long! Simply put, she penned the songs of my soul and so I offer another favorite for your consideration.

    All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.

  124. Georgene Kruzel's Gravatar Georgene Kruzel
    March 22, 2017 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    My vote is for Fanny Crosby – for all the glorious worship services and evening hymn-sings I experienced growing up around her praise-filled songs. Our church of Christ community sang those timeless hymns in acappella harmony and I look forward to singing with those brothers and sisters again in the sweet by and by!

  125. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 22, 2017 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice. I love GFH, but having just played an arrange of “Blessed Assurance” in handbell choir, I’m going with Aunt Fanny.

  126. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    March 22, 2017 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Impressive as Fanny Crosby’s life may be, I am a devoted fan of Handel’s music. I love when our church organist plays Handel, and he does it exceedingly well. Handel is my absolute favorite classical composer. Gospel songs are well and good, but nothing, in my mind, can match the sublime beauty of “The Messiah” and his other works.

  127. March 22, 2017 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Fanny because I think she deserves credit for all her hard work! Most people know who Handel is; the same can’t be said of Fanny. I am thankful for both.

  128. annieb's Gravatar annieb
    March 22, 2017 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Handel wrote the music, Scripture wrote the lyrics. Fanny Crosby wrote lyrics to put to other peoples’ music. Who had the greater gift? Hmmm? The music of both these saints has touched my heart deeply all my life, but for my Baptist preacher daddy, I’ll vote for Fanny Crosby and for her life of deep gratitude. ( As an aside–I marvel when I think that The Messiah is probably the only scripture some people hear all year long!)

  129. Cheryl L Nix's Gravatar Cheryl L Nix
    March 22, 2017 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I can’t imagine a world without Handel’s music, he has my vote.

  130. March 22, 2017 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    If you look at the composer who had the greatest influence for the longest period of time, Handel takes the cake. With just The Messiah he has introduced millions of people to the Holy word and stories from the bible. I’m not discounting Fanny’s influence, but I’m a musician and didn’t even know of Fanny until Lent Madness. I’ve played Handel scores most of my life in some form or other. My vote goes to Handel.

  131. Rita OConnor's Gravatar Rita OConnor
    March 22, 2017 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I totally respect both candidates, especially considering they both experienced the challenge of blindness during their respective lives. As a chorister who has been singing classical choral music since my teens (I am now 70!) I feel I must go with G F Handel:)

  132. March 22, 2017 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Handel is unquestionably the greater musician, one of the greatest ever, but I thought we were voting on the basis of “heroic virtue” in life. I love “Messiah,” especially the bit that comes right after the Hallelujah Chorus, “I know that my redeemer liveth….and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” However, when I learned that Handel wrote “Judas Maccabeus” as a great paean of praise to the Duke of Cumberland in thanksgiving for his utter brutality in slaughtering Scots after the Battle of Culloden, my opinion of Handel as a person was considerably lessened. Cumberland was rightly referred to as a “butcher” by many. Handel was currying favor from the King, of course, but I cannot consider him, as a person, “saintly.” Fanny Crosby refused to be disheartened by lifelong blindness and “did what she could” to help the less fortunate. I have a complex religious history but am now fulfilled and happy as an Episcopalian. One of my earliest memories is of waking up in my crib and hearing my mother going about her work downstairs, singing hymns. The hymn was often “Blessed Assurance.” We sang it at her funeral when she died at age 93. I had to vote for Fanny Crosby.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 22, 2017 - 6:25 pm | Permalink

      I did not know this story. Thank you. I do not know the hymn, but can easily imagine your mother humming.

    • March 23, 2017 - 7:13 am | Permalink

      I am saddened to learn that Handel composed “Judas Maccabeus” to honor “Butcher” Cumberland. I posted earlier that all Christians have their faults, and this is certainly a glaring one.

  133. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 22, 2017 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, I voted for Handel mostly because he was lucky enough to live in a century when people had a better sense of what a moving bass line could do to bring a text to life. Gospel music has its moments, and I love “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” but we don’t sing much other Gospel in our parish. Today, at least, call me parochial.

  134. Joyce in Madison. GA's Gravatar Joyce in Madison. GA
    March 22, 2017 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    As a choral singer since I was fifteen, I have to go with the composer who, in my opinion, must have favored altos. I think his wife must have sung alto and insisted that the Messiah afford her a good choral part. Let us not forget “and the Glory, the Glory of the Lord shall be e – e – e – e – e – e – reveal – ed.” Hang in there Handel!

  135. Kathy Wisconsin's Gravatar Kathy Wisconsin
    March 22, 2017 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Ohh this is a tough one. Music has been such an important part of my life. I adore the Messiah! I did vote for Fanny, however, for her devotion to our Lord and charity to others. Handel has already received much recognition.

  136. Nancy Ciaffone's Gravatar Nancy Ciaffone
    March 22, 2017 - 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for Handel because his learning to play mirrors my grandfather’s attempts and final success.

  137. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    March 22, 2017 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    For giving us Messiah, I vote for Handel.

  138. March 22, 2017 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    In light of the several calls this year of unfair matchups, consider this scenario:
    If Lent Madness is modeled on the NCAA’s “March Madness” for basketball teams, shouldn’t the SEC consider running separate men’s and women’s playoffs?
    Then it could be capped off with a SuperSaints Playoff.
    Now, that could be Forward Movement! Even if it only affords an opportunity to select both Fanny Crosby and G.F. Handel.

    • March 22, 2017 - 4:39 pm | Permalink

      And perhaps a few wild-card berths in the Saintly Sixteen for those who, while losing their rounds, still engaged a great deal of interest among participants (Studly Ted, for example, in this year’s LM).

  139. Karin's Gravatar Karin
    March 22, 2017 - 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Especially considering the last paragraph of Crosby’s biography, we should perhaps remember that Handel was also known for generosity, including his support of the Foundling Hospital, for which he gave annual benefit performances of Messiah.

  140. Linda Hanson's Gravatar Linda Hanson
    March 22, 2017 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Fanny. Her hymns would have been sung by parents and grandparents, the people who provided the mortar for building my faith since Sunday School at age three.

  141. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 22, 2017 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Handel played the organ in the beautiful baroque church of Great Witley, close to where I live, so I am voting for Handel as a local connection. Surprised to see him behind after I cast my vote.

  142. Meg Kimble's Gravatar Meg Kimble
    March 22, 2017 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I confessed to being bored by the annual performances of The Messiah, usually at Christmastime, though I do understand that the tickets sold make other concerts possible that are less well attended. However Handel has my vote because of my father’s love for his Coronation anthems, especially his setting of the love song of Psalm 45, “My heart is inditing of a good matter.”

  143. Sally's Gravatar Sally
    March 22, 2017 - 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Love Handel’s Messiah and his feast day falls on my birthday. 🙂

  144. Jennifer S.'s Gravatar Jennifer S.
    March 22, 2017 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Feminist props to Fanny for her well-chosen epitaph (Mark 14: “…in memory of her”) but I may have to vote Handel just to try and stop a next-round bracket pitting Fanny against Bloomer. (No accident, I”m sure. Shame on you, SEC!)

  145. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 22, 2017 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Blessed Assurance is lovely, but it will never blow me away like the Hallelujah Chorus. Handel it is. And he and Jimi Hendrix lived in the same house in London.

    • Kate's Gravatar Kate
      March 22, 2017 - 2:34 pm | Permalink

      You see, SEC, why a like or dislike button is so necessary??
      love this one!!!

      • andrea's Gravatar andrea
        March 23, 2017 - 1:11 am | Permalink

        Cool. Handel and Hendrix living in the same house. Perhaps this is an example of “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”-which is a hymn whose text was written by William Cowper. 🙂

  146. Evelyn Casey's Gravatar Evelyn Casey
    March 22, 2017 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m beginning to think, especially with this one, that I must simply close my eyes and pick. They were both without sight, so must I be.
    For me, in my heart, it is Handel, I have “sung” Messiah every Thanksgiving since I can remember. It is more than a memory, ’tis a blessing.

  147. George Roberts's Gravatar George Roberts
    March 22, 2017 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Who could vote against Handel??

  148. Candace's Gravatar Candace
    March 22, 2017 - 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Another tight matchup with a real dilemma in making my choice!! Aunt Fanny’s hymns continue to inspire me!!
    And I love singing Messiah!
    I ended up casting my vote for Fanny!
    Her charitable work was a new piece for me!!

  149. Linda McGee's Gravatar Linda McGee
    March 22, 2017 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Every year in December, Duke University presents portions of Handel’s Messiah with selections from both Christmas & Easter. My husband & I have taken several trips to hear Handel’s blessed music. It’s no surprise that I voted for Herr Handel.

  150. Judith in White Hall's Gravatar Judith in White Hall
    March 22, 2017 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I was assigned to look the bios for tables at a retreat and one of the music table took the name Fanny Crosby, I found she wrote under a great many number of names, because the hymnal publishers didn’t want a whole book of her hymns only. Every time I attended a church for a meeting, I check there hymnals to see how many FC are in there. I most I found was one church’s hymnals had 22. I tried to find out under what other names she wrote and was unable to. This pairing may kick start my search again.

  151. William Loring's Gravatar William Loring
    March 22, 2017 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Years ago I read an extract from a 19th c. diary (I forget whose) which told of following a funeral procession (he did not know whose) into Westminster Abbey. The deceased was evidently a prominent musician as he was interred next to Handel. What impressed the diarist was that in opening the grave the workman accidentally broke into Handel’s coffin and he actually saw Handel’s great toe! Aunt Fanny is probably undervalued in the Episcopal Church (she is not represented at all in the Hymnal 1982) but still, how could I possibly not vote for the bearer of that great toe?

  152. March 22, 2017 - 3:31 pm | Permalink

    This is a difficult one! I grew up singing “Blessed Assurance” and learned to play some Handel!

  153. Lurlene's Gravatar Lurlene
    March 22, 2017 - 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Through the centuries, Handel has received well-deserved accolades, but my heart belongs to Fanny Crosby since her hymns were a part of my spiritual awakening. I have sung and loved her hymns across three denominations. Her biography made me love her even more!

  154. Donna K.'s Gravatar Donna K.
    March 22, 2017 - 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I can (sort of) play “Blessed Assurance on the ukulele. Fanny Crosby gets my vote!

  155. Dn. Teena Maki's Gravatar Dn. Teena Maki
    March 22, 2017 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

    We have just done a “Saint” –Fanny Crosby with the kids at Sunday School. Did want to point out, yes Fanny had an infection in her eyes at 6 wks old, the family called the doctor & he was not available. So another “doctor” came (who was not a doctor) & told the family to put a mustard poultice on her eyes, which left her permanently blind. Had to vote for her, blind & 8000 poems set to music, all loved hymns.

  156. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 22, 2017 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Another hard one – two child prodigies, one a lyricist, one a composer. On this one I am going for the music – if only for the times when what I’ve needed to pray could not find words – even through hymns – but the music itself has carried me home.

  157. Sandra's Gravatar Sandra
    March 22, 2017 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I love Handel’s music, but when I make my monthly visits to the people in my congregation who are home-bound, they usually request to sing the hymns of Fanny Crosby because that is the music that sustains them. Among their favourites are ‘Blessed Assurance’, ‘Rescue the Perishing’, ‘To God be the Glory’, Saved by Grace’, and ‘Pass me not, O gentle Saviour’. How could I not give St. Fanny my vote?

  158. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 22, 2017 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Handel is most known for his Messiah and while he composed the music, I seem to recall that the lyrics were, to echo 2 Timothy 3:16, breathed out by God.

    While Crosby surely knew scripture, she wrote her own lyrics, both to her music and others. And for that she won the blessed assurance of my vote.

  159. James Oppenheimer's Gravatar James Oppenheimer
    March 22, 2017 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure a lot of people think Ms Crosby is the better of these two, and that saddens me.

    But it is what it is. Handel’s works will live forever. (“King of kings and Lord of lords”)

  160. J.J. Cape Cod's Gravatar J.J. Cape Cod
    March 22, 2017 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Aunt Fanny was not to be passed over. Her hymn “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior” touches my soul deeply. Earl Thomas, Blues and Gospel singer does a heartfelt rendition. Check it out on youtube.

  161. Roberta Perry's Gravatar Roberta Perry
    March 22, 2017 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I had to go with Handel. I have sung the Messiah many times and Love the story of Christ’s life. Blessed Assurance is wonderful as well so it was a hard decision.

  162. March 22, 2017 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    This was an easy vote for me.

    At the time in my teenage years when I was beginning to take Christian faith seriously, and when I was also realising that I actually liked this “classical music” stuff which everyone around me was telling me that a person of my age (and my working-class background) shouldn’t like, I also discovered that the Christian faith and classical music could be relevant to each other. And that discovery was via Mr. Handel and “Messiah”.

    More recently, I wrote a small group resource – published by Mediacom here in Australia – for those wanting to use “Messiah” as the springboard for their prayers and reflection in Advent. It has the title “The Making of the Messiah”. (If you’re interested, please visit Mediacom’s website – – and type Messiah into the search function as a keyword.)

    My concern with Ms. Crosby is in the fact that her hymns frequently reflect a theology with a substitutionary atonement, and with the idea that those who get their theology wrong will be fuel for an eternal BBQ, and I think we can do a lot better than this in our worship.
    So, of the two prolific musicians with vision problems, my vote is for Handel.

    • David Carver's Gravatar David Carver
      March 22, 2017 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

      “and when I was also realising that I actually liked this “classical music” stuff which everyone around me was telling me that a person of my age[…]shouldn’t like”

      Omg Bob, I can totally relate to this.

      • David Carver's Gravatar David Carver
        March 22, 2017 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Like you have people my age saying “contemporary music in the church might be cool”, and the grownups sometimes go along with it, while meanwhile I’m sitting here and going “nooo I come to church for the hymnal ;_;”

  163. David Carver's Gravatar David Carver
    March 22, 2017 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Handel just because I prefer that kind of music. Seems reasonable to me considering this is a “composer vs. composer” matchup, but… Should I have taken personal characteristics and life stories more into account?

  164. Char Claxton's Gravatar Char Claxton
    March 22, 2017 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

    This is my story,
    This is my song,
    Praising my Savior
    All the day long

    Fanny Crosby and Blessed Assurance for the win!!!

  165. Liz von Dohlen's Gravatar Liz von Dohlen
    March 22, 2017 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough one. I love Handel’s music, but Fanny Crosby wrote music that millions of ordinary Christians can sing. As one person commented, her hymns are frequently running through my head. I am a church pianist, and often I use her hymns as prelude or postlude or offertoty. People can hear the tune, and sometimes they will remember the words. I just had to vote for Aunt Fanny.

  166. Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
    March 22, 2017 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I chose “Aunt Fannie” for her simple approach to life and her dedication to her gifts and her faith. I really like that she helped the missions in NYC.

  167. Carol from Canada's Gravatar Carol from Canada
    March 22, 2017 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Fanny. I am not sure I can articulate exactly why, but it has something to do with Handel having a great gift from God that he used to write GLORIOUS music, whereas Fanny worked hard to praise God in words. I have several friends who are totally tone deaf; to them music (yes even the Messiah!) is just noise but the words are more appreciated.
    By the way, I just love Diana’s words!!

  168. March 22, 2017 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Handel went from success to glory his whole life long; he was allied with the aristocracy and enjoyed their patronage, while other composers (e.g. Mozart) suffered greatly from the lack thereof. I think the guy had enough glory. I’d like to pack the house for Fanny. We should support the bottom as well as the top of the musical heap. Go Fanny Go!!!

    • March 22, 2017 - 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Handel’s life was by no means a glittering succession of triumphs. His professional fortunes waxed and waned dramatically. By 1741 he was a has-been. No one was interested in his music, he was in seriously poor health, and facing bankruptcy, yet again. But through all his hardships, he never lost his faith in Christ, and continued to give generously to the poor, even though he himself was nearly destitute. Then, by God’s grace, he composed “Messiah” and everything changed for the good, permanently. Handel knew the bottom, as well as the top, of the musical heap.

  169. Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
    March 22, 2017 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I am in absolute awe of the women who did so much with their gifts in times when not much was expected. I am also overwhelmed by the generosity and commitment to the communities they served. Thanks to our fearless leaders for showing us true examples of fearlessness. Having grown up on Handel this is a tough choice. My first lasting impression of the pathos of scripture was listening to Handel’s Messiah. Tough choices. Or should I say a feast of choices.

  170. Izzie's Gravatar Izzie
    March 22, 2017 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Fanny blindness never stopped her.

  171. Hilda Maria Knowles's Gravatar Hilda Maria Knowles
    March 22, 2017 - 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Although I love Handel’s oratorios (especially Messiah) Fanny has brought more people to Christ through her hymns. They have comforted me in times of sadness and trouble and uplifted me at other times. She got my vote.

  172. dawna quittmeyer's Gravatar dawna quittmeyer
    March 22, 2017 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Fanny – grew up with her. Blessed Assurance was a favorite of by my mother and my grandmother. Messiah, although I am sick of sinning it every year and skipping the Easter portion most of the time, it was the last thing my mother heard me sing. so Handel it was.

  173. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 22, 2017 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Great Freudian slip with “sinning” Messiah every year. Many can doubtless relate.

  174. Claire Fitzmaurice, Quincy MA's Gravatar Claire Fitzmaurice, Quincy MA
    March 22, 2017 - 7:04 pm | Permalink

    As ever, I am late to the comments section. Am I the token UU here? I was disappointed to discover that Ms Crosby’s hymns have not been adopted/adapted into the hymnal of the Unitarian Universalists. I am inclined to vote for underdogs… but my vote is for Handel. Quincy’s own heroine Abigail Adams wrote movingly in her dairy of hearing the premiere of “Messiah” in London. Handel gets my vote.

  175. March 22, 2017 - 7:39 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite pieces in “Messiah” is in the Passion segment: the chorus number “All we like sheep have gone astray”. Throughout the piece, the music is oddly joyful, like sinners reveling in their sin. But at the end, the music abruptly turns very somber, as the chorus sings “And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
    Gives me chills to hear it!

  176. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 22, 2017 - 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Fanny because G.F. already has a feast day for himself and is so well known. Going for the lesser well known.

  177. Gary L Lake-Dylan's Gravatar Gary L Lake-Dylan
    March 22, 2017 - 8:30 pm | Permalink

    crosby certainly for singability
    handel for theological orthodoxy/scripture to music

    i had to go with handel

  178. Corban's Gravatar Corban
    March 22, 2017 - 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I think this may be the most difficult choice yet! Both choices were blind at some point in their lives. Both were child prodigies. Both composed very well-known works. Because I’ve been trying to vote consistently for specifically Episcopal/Anglican saints, I’ve voted for Handel this round, seeing as he is more closely associated with Anglicanism than Fanny Crosby.

  179. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 22, 2017 - 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Aunt Fanny’s a cutie but had to go with Handel.

  180. Eric's Gravatar Eric
    March 22, 2017 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Well…I can “Read the writing on the wall” as they say…(Belshazzar’s Feast)…
    I can see that our Blessed Mr.Handel is going to lose to our Blessed Ms.Crosby. She is indeed a worthy opponent. Both bring glory to our Lord. So be it 🙂 “mene, mene, tekel, parsin”

  181. Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
    March 22, 2017 - 9:47 pm | Permalink

    As a chorister, I love both of them. What shines in Handel is his gorgeous melodies and complex harmonies. But Fanny’s great faith shines forth in her amazing hymns of prayer and praise. My favorite is “In the Cross”. Our church has an anthem arrangement that is just wonderful. I voted for Fanny.

  182. Peggy Habd's Gravatar Peggy Habd
    March 22, 2017 - 9:51 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t grow up with Fanny Crosby. She wasn’t in the Hymnal 1940. Many years later: My late husband, Bill, organist here at Christ Church, was a former Southern Baptist. He introduced me to hymns, including many by Fanny, that we’re new to me and that touched my heart. As a church organist myself, I am in love with the glories of Handel, beyond our understanding. But as I play in a small church each Sunday, I hear Fanny’s words resonating with the people gathered in the pews to worship. She’s got my vote.

  183. Jason Tamez's Gravatar Jason Tamez
    March 22, 2017 - 10:14 pm | Permalink

    “Handel surprised the duke with his skills on an organ.”

    Hey! That’s dirty!

  184. Georgia's Gravatar Georgia
    March 22, 2017 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

    A very hard choice today! In the end, Handel won!

  185. fran in the pines's Gravatar fran in the pines
    March 22, 2017 - 11:03 pm | Permalink

    The Celebrity Blogger for Handel is totally brilliant!!!

    I just re-read both collects, and in the one for Handel, the blogger has included a reference to the Fanny Crosby hymn that so many of the comments referenced, “Blessed Assurance.” In case you don’t know this hymn, it starts with the words:
    Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine.
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.

    Now note the segment I’ve highlighted with capitalization from the collect for Fanny’s competition:

    Collect for G.F. Handel
    Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness, you gave to your musician George Frederick Handel grace to show forth your glory in music: may we also be moved to sound out your praises as
    through Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    MY, MY, MY!!!!! I can’t believe no one commented on such clever writing earlier in the day.
    Kudos to Anna Fitch Courie!

  186. Christine CO's Gravatar Christine CO
    March 23, 2017 - 12:21 am | Permalink

    This was a difficult one for me in more ways than one. Besides the two very different, but great, types of music each dealt with….

    Fanny Crosby is related to my husband in three different ways according to my genealogy program’s relationship calculator, and probably actually twice that, since Fanny’s parents were first cousins.

    But in Dublin in 1742, people were putting together the premier of Messiah and wanted the choirs of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral to sing. Jonathan Swift (perhaps better known for his writing) was Dean of St. Patrick’s and didn’t want to have their choir perform. Luckily, the assistant dean, Gabriel James Maturin, persuaded Swift to allow St. Patrick’s choir to participate. Gabriel James Maturin was my husband’s 6th great grandfather. [Such a great crowd was expected for this premier that, in order to accommodate as many people as possible, men were asked not to wear swords, and women were asked not to wear hoops in their dresses!]

    So which branch of the family to I go with when choosing for whom to vote? Decisions, decisions…..

  187. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    March 23, 2017 - 12:23 am | Permalink

    Very tough choice today. I voted for Handel because I found my singing voice at a “Messiah” sing at church-twice. Also to honor the people of London today.

  188. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 23, 2017 - 12:39 am | Permalink

    Oh no! Handel is losing! He is absolutely one of my favorite composers! I have sung much of his music and never tire of it!

  189. March 23, 2017 - 1:32 am | Permalink

    Thou wicked, wicked SEC. How dare you pitch these two against other? One warms my Protestant heart. The other makes my soul soar. Scott, you and Tim really are masochists, aren’t you?

    • March 23, 2017 - 1:34 am | Permalink

      Oops! “Sadists” would have been the correct term, blessed SEC.

  190. Carmen F.'s Gravatar Carmen F.
    March 23, 2017 - 1:48 am | Permalink

    Fanny J. Crosby’s hymns were a huge part of my upbringing. Several are favourites that I can sing all the verses from memory decades later.

  191. Valerie DeBenedette's Gravatar Valerie DeBenedette
    March 23, 2017 - 7:30 am | Permalink

    Fanny was also very active in promoting education for the blind and disabled and was said to be the first woman to access Congress. I go to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Brewster, so she is the hometown girl for me.

  192. Carolyn Coolidge's Gravatar Carolyn Coolidge
    March 23, 2017 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I vote for Handel, whose music has been a lifelong inspiration.

  193. Tom's Gravatar Tom
    March 23, 2017 - 2:26 pm | Permalink

    People sing Crosby. Nobody sings Handel.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 23, 2017 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

      I voted for her, but I have heard a full Cathedral choir sing the entire Messiah and have sang the H_________ Chrous as part of a different smaller choir myself.

  194. Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
    March 23, 2017 - 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Oh man, I can’t believe I missed this vote. I would have voted for Handel 1000 times over. I cannot imagine any soul who gave more to the glory of God through the gift of music. Did you know he completed Messiah in 28 days? And that he did it as a fund-raiser to keep people out of debtor’s prisons? Sorry, George. We have taken you for granted.

  195. Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
    March 23, 2017 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh man, I can’t believe I missed this vote. I would have voted for Handel 1000 times over. I cannot imagine any soul who has given more to the glory of God through the gift of music than he. What should have been added about Messiah: When he was originally given the libretto by an Anglican friend, he estimated it would take him 18 months to complete the score. Then he was commissioned by a Dublin Charity to write a work to support the cause of keeping people out of debtor’s prisons. Himself facing bankruptcy due to the failure of his opera company, he realized the Messiah libretto was providential and could be scored to support this cause that meant so much to him. He completed the ENTIRE work in 28 days. The Holy Spirit just poured out of him in this work. Sorry, George. We have taken you for granted.

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