Short, Powerful and A Little Bit More: “Close to Thee”
Looking for a short but powerful hymn to be close to the Creator? Frances "Fanny" Jane Crosby's (1820-1915) “Close to Thee” might fit the bill.
“Close to Thee” is a slow, but powerful hymn. It also has a meditative quality that reflects a believer’s desire to be close to God and stay close to the Creator all the time.
This hymn was written in 1874 by Frances Jane Crosby, a hymn writer that surpasses Charles Wesley in the number of hymns she has written. Close to writing 7,000 hymns, Crosby recounts the moment when she wrote this hymn in her autobiography. She says that she felt “the nearness of God through Christ as the constant companion of my pilgrim journey when my heart burst out with the words.”
The hymn has three stanzas with five lines each. It is short by many standards, but it is a powerful hymn when sang, more so for a choir arrangement. The message of the hymn is reinforced every time the title is repeated in every last line of the verse.
Fanny Crosby is famous for the number of hymns under her name. She also stands out as a hymn maker who makes texts or lyrics after she hears a tune. In the case of “Close To Thee,” she might have written it first before Silas Jones Vail (1881-1884) provided the tune for the hymn.
Silas Jones Vail was born in Brooklyn and did not have any substantial background in composing tunes. He was a businessman, a hat maker, to be exact. He was an amateur composer, and he had the habit of collecting song compilations. His collection includes Athenaeum Collection (1863) and Chapel Melodies (1874), The Diadem (1865) and Songs of Grace and Glory, with William Sherwin (1874). He wrote a lot of music/melodies for Crosby, William Sherwin, and Stephen Foster. He wrote 17 tunes, and one melody is used for this hymn.