Scripture Verse

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Fa­ther…So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29–31

Introduction

Words: Ci­vil­la D. Mar­tin, 1905.

Music: Charles H. Ga­bri­el (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Civilla D. Martin (1866–1948)

Origin of the Song

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 wheel chair.

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 re­ply 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.

Civilla Mar­tin


The next day Mar­tin mailed the po­em to Ga­bri­el, who wrote the mu­sic.

Singer Eth­el Wa­ters (1893–1977) so loved this song that she used its name as the ti­tle for her au­to­bio­gra­phy, and it ap­pears on her tomb­stone.

The song has al­so been per­formed by Mar­vin Gaye, An­dy Grif­fith, Whit­ney Hous­ton, Ma­ha­lia Jack­son, Gla­dys Knight, Jess­ye Nor­man and oth­ers.

Lyrics

illustration

Lyrics

Why should I feel dis­cour­aged,
Why should the sha­dows come,
Why should my heart be lone­ly,
And long for Heav’n and home,
When Je­sus is my por­tion?
My con­stant friend is He:
His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me;
His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me.

Refrain

I sing be­cause I’m hap­py,
I sing be­cause I’m free,
For His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me.

Let not your heart be trou­bled,
His ten­der word I hear,
And rest­ing on His good­ness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He lead­eth,
But one step I may see;
His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me;
His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me.

Refrain

Whenever I am tempt­ed,
Whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sigh­ing,
When hope with­in me dies,
I draw the clos­er to Him,
From care He sets me free;
His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me;
His eye is on the spar­row,
And I know He watch­es me.

Refrain