Music: Karaoke-“Eyes on the Sparrow” (Karaoke version) by Crazy li’ Sal

“Eyes on the Sparrow” (Karaoke version) by Crazy li’ Sal

History of Hymns: “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”
by C. Michael Hawn umcdiscipleship.org


“His Eye Is on the Sparrow”
Civilla Martin
The Faith We Sing, No. 2146

“Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is he;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.”

Civilla Durfee Martin (1866-1948) was born in Nova Scotia and died in Atlanta, Ga. In “His eye is on the sparrow” (1905), she has provided one of the most influential and often-recorded gospel hymns of the 20th century.

….
Walter Stillman Martin was a Baptist minister who received his education at Harvard. He later became a member of the Disciples of Christ, teaching at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, N.C., before moving to Atlanta in 1919, a location that became the base for revivals that he held throughout the U.S.

The song was obviously inspired by Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Gather feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Later in Matthew (10:29-31), the Gospel writer continues on this theme: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Similar thoughts are cited in Luke 12:6-7. Stanza two quotes part of John 1:14 directly, “Let not your heart be troubled…”

Civilla Martin describes the context out of which the hymn was born: “Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s response was simple: ‘His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.’ The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ was the outcome of that experience.”

The next day she mailed the poem to Charles Gabriel, a famous composer of gospel songs, who wrote a tune for it.

The themes of solace in spite of sorrow, and a profound sense of being under the watch-care of Jesus, who is a “constant friend,” offered the African-American community comfort during the Civil Rights movement. The refrain seals the theme by offering an apology for singing—“I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free”—words that would speak to everyone, but especially African Americans.

There is no doubt that African American gospel artist Kirk Franklin was influenced by Martin’s song when he composed “Why we sing” (The Faith We Sing, No. 2144).”

his eye on the sparrow lauryn hill et tanya blount, from youtube.com

His Eye Is On the Sparrow – piano instrumental hymn with lyrics from youtube.com


“Uploaded on May 8, 2010

Instrumental version of song His Eye Is On the Sparrow by Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount. This song was recorded for the movie Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993).

Tanya:
Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home

When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me

Lauryn:
I sing

Both:
Because

Lauryn:
I’m happy
I sing

Both:
Because

Lauryn:
I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me

Tanya:
He watches me

Lauryn:
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches

Tanya:
I know he watches

Lauryn:
I know he watches me

Tanya:
I

Lauryn:
I

Both:
Sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow

Lauryn:
And I know he watches me

Tanya:
He watches me

Both:
His eye is on the sparrow

Tanya:
And I know he watches me

Lauryn:
He watches me

Tanya:
He watches me
I never thought

Both:
He watches me”

I first heard this song when a friend sung this at this annual talent show where I attended college. It was a popular song to be sung by my peers at many others. What does this song speak to you on?

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