His eye is on the sparrow

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 she mailed the po­em to Charles Gab­ri­el, who sup­plied the mu­sic. Sing­er Ethel Wa­ters so loved this song that she used its name as the ti­tle for her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

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;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


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.


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.


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One Response to His eye is on the sparrow

  1. Thanks Ben for that reminder! I did NOT know the story behind the song— the story of the Godly couple is VERY inspirational indeed! I DID know about Ethel Waters’ biography–or autobiography–(not sure which), but I think I read it many years ago. I think I remember it saying that her mom was raped—and gave birth to the child—that grew up to be the wonderful talented Godly woman –ETHEL Waters. I listened to her song again–and I KNOW I heard her sing that same rendition –possibly at that same Billy Graham crusade–many years ago. But I LOVED that particular rendition—“I KNOW HE watches WE.” Beautiful lady–beautiful SONG—AMAZING SAVIOR!
    Hi and love to you and Erin—tell Erin I used the “Way back in the beginning, there was God” action, salvation poem/activity–that Erin’s mom made up—and we practiced and used in Haiti. Erin emailed it to me–(with all the words and motions) at my request a few years –and I used it for VBS that year–and again this year with my class. Just PERFECT!! (Patti Sue and I taught the class together…and it was good.)
    I PRAY you are both well–and happy in the Lord–and confident you are where God wants you. God’s blessings and peace to you both. In HIM, Peg

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