Words: Civilla Durfee Martin (b. Aug. 21, 1866; d. Mar. 9, 1948)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)
Note: You can read something about the life of Civilla Martin, and how this song came to be written, on the Wordwise Hymns link. Mrs. Martin’s husband tried to write a tune for her words, but wasn’t happy with the result. He then sent the text to Charles Gabriel, one of the most outstanding composers of gospel music in the early part of the twentieth century.
Mr. Gabriel added the tune and immediately sent the completed song to Charles Alexander, in England, where he was music director for R. A. Torrey, in a series of evangelistic meetings. The hymn was first sung there in 1905, in a great meeting in the Royal Albert Hall. From time to time on YouTube there’s a version sung by the peerless Ethel Waters. Try here.
Yesterday I looked out at the bird feeder in our front yard and counted about thirty sparrows pecking away on the ground, all around the feeder, picking up seeds that had fallen there. The little sparrow is the commonest of birds, and it certainly doesn’t distinguish itself for its bright plumage. But that is what made the Lord’s choice of it so appropriate to teach a lesson on the loving care of God.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Lk. 12:6-7).
There is, in philosophy, what is known as an a fortiori argument. The Latin phrase means “with even stronger reason.” The argument goes like this: If “A” is true, then it stands to reason that “B” is even more certainly true. That syllogism is used a number of times in the Bible, and it comes into play twice in the verses above.
Since God keeps His eye on each tiny, insignificant sparrow, it is surely even more certain that He will watch over each of His blood-bought children, human beings of whom the Bible says:
“You [Lord] have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honour, and set him over the works of Your hands” (Heb. 2:7).
We are assured that “the very hairs of [our] head are all numbered.” And there again is an a fortiori argument. Since God is concerned about the hairs of our head, surely He’s interested in what happens to the rest of us, not only for time, but for all eternity!
¤ Confirming that beyond all doubt is Calvary. How do we know God loves us? “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
¤ Even the Lord’s discipline of His child, painful though it may be at the time, is a reassurances of His love since, “Whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Heb. 12:6).
¤ Then comes the invitation to pray, to bring our requests boldly (with cheerful confidence) to His throne, to seek mercy and grace (Heb. 4:15-16). There we find the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities [sympathizes with our weaknesses].”
¤ And we have the promise that the Lord is always with us, “even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20; cf. Heb. 13:5-6). He will never forsake us, and looks forward to having us with Him forever, in the heavenly kingdom (Jn. 14:3; 17:24).
This list could be much longer. But these things are sufficient to demonstrate the validity of what Mrs. Martin’s hymn says.
CH-1) 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.
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.
1) What other evidence do you see, beyond what is mentioned, that the Lord values us and cares for us far more that “many sparrows”?
2) Since this is true, how should it affect our daily lives, and our attitudes?