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His Eye is on the Sparrow

His Eye is on the Sparrow

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"His Eye Is on the Sparrow" is a Gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

. Although today it is a staple of African-American worship services, the song was originally written in 1905 by two white songwriters, lyricist Civilla D. Martin
Civilla D. Martin
Civilla Durfee Martin was a Canadian-American writer of many religious hymns and gospel songs in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Her husband, Walter Stillman Martin , studied ministry at Harvard University, where he became a Baptist minister but later switched to the Disciples of...

 and composer Charles H. Gabriel
Charles H. Gabriel
Charles Hutchinson Gabriel was a writer of gospel songs and composer of gospel tunes. He is said to have written and/or composed between 7,000 and 8,000 songs, many of which are available in 21st century hymnals. He used several pseudonyms, including Charlotte G. Homer, H. A. Henry, and S. B...

. The song is most associated with actress-singer Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters was an American blues, jazz and gospel vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues.Her best-known recordings includes, "Dinah", "Birmingham Bertha",...

 who used the title for her autobiography.

The song has been performed extensively in Gospel music with notable versions by The Soul Stirrers, The Golden Gate Quartet
The Golden Gate Quartet
The Golden Gate Quartet is an American vocal group. It was formed in 1934 and, with changes in membership, remains active. It is the most successful of all of the African-American gospel music groups who sang in the jubilee quartet style...

, Shirley Caesar
Shirley Caesar
Shirley Ann Caesar is an American Gospel music singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned six decades...

, Crystal Lewis
Crystal Lewis
Crystal Lewis is an American contemporary Christian/Gospel vocalist, songwriter and author.-Early years:Lewis grew up singing in her father's church...

, Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. , better known by his stage name Marvin Gaye, was an American singer-songwriter and musician with a three-octave vocal range....

 (from In Loving Memory), Kirk Franklin & the Family
Kirk Franklin
Kirk Dwayne Franklin is an American Gospel music musician, choir director, and author, and is most notably known for leading urban contemporary gospel choirs such as The Family, God's Property and One Nation Crew .- Early years :...

, Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Noelle Hill is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress.Early in her career, she established her reputation as a member of the Fugees. In 1998, she launched her solo career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album, The Miseducation of...

 & Tanya Blount
Tanya Blount
-Early life and education:Morgan State University, where she majored in psychology and sang in the university choir.-Career:She secured a major recording deal with Polydor now Island/Def Jam Records at age 19 and by 20 was featured in the film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, where she performed a...

 (from Sister Act 2), Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson – January 27, 1972) was an African-American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice, she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel"...

, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an Amercian pioneering gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist who attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment...

, Dottie West
Dottie West
Dottie West was an American country music singer and songwriter. Along with her friends and co-recording artists Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, she is considered one of the genre's most influential and groundbreaking female artists...

, Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....

 and Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Ann Mandrell is an American country music singer best known for a 1970s–1980s series of Top 10 hits and TV shows that helped her become one of country's most successful female vocalists of the 1970s and 1980s...

. The song was the title track for Mickey Newbury
Mickey Newbury
Mickey Newbury was an American songwriter, a critically acclaimed recording artist, and a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.-Biography:...

's 1978 album. Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson
Jessica Ann Simpson is an American recording artist, actress, television personality, and fashion designer whose rise to fame began in 1999. Since that time, Simpson has achieved many recording milestones, starred in several television shows, movies, and commercials, launched a line of hair and...

 recorded the song for her 2001 album Irresistible
Irresistible (Jessica Simpson album)
Irresistible is the second studio album by American recording artist Jessica Simpson, released on May 25, 2001, through Columbia Records. Simpson, who began working on the project in July 2000, contacted already established writers and producers to collaborate on the project,...

. Recent jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 artists who recorded the song include the George Adams
George Adams (musician)
George Rufus Adams was an American jazz musician who played tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet. He is best known for his work with Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Roy Haynes and in the quartet he co-led with pianist Don Pullen, featuring bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Dannie Richmond...

-Don Pullen
Don Pullen
Don Pullen was an American jazz pianist and organist. Pullen developed a strikingly individual style throughout his career. He composed masterworks ranging from blues to bebop and modern jazz...

 Quartet (1984), the Scott Amendola
Scott Amendola
Scott Amendola is an American jazz drummer from the San Francisco Bay Area. His styles include jazz, blues, groove, rock and new music. He is considered central to the Bay Area music scene....

 Band (2002), and by Jessi Colter
Jessi Colter
Jessi Colter is an American country music artist who is best known for her collaboration with her husband, country singer and songwriter Waylon Jennings and for her 1975 country-pop crossover hit "I'm Not Lisa"....

, on her new album, "Out of the Ashes" (2006). Additionally, Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 singer Elena Gadel
Elena Gadel
Elena Gadel is a Spanish singer.She placed eleventh in Operacion Triunfo 2. Her debut single in 2002, Es Por Ti, claimed the number four slot on the Spanish charts, and in 2003, she had success in the pop group Lunae...

 performed the song in 2002 on the 2nd series of the music programme Operación Triunfo
Operación Triunfo
Operación Triunfo is a reality-show talent contest which first aired on Spain's TVE network in 2001. A kind of cross between Pop Idol, Voces en Función, Star Search, and Big Brother, the show aimed to find the country's next solo singing sensation, putting a selection of hopefuls through their...

, where she was consequently voted off after the performance. Audrey Assad
Audrey Assad
Audrey Assad is an American singer-songwriter and contemporary Christian music artist of Catholic faith. Her debut album, The House You're Building, was released through Sparrow Records in July 2010 and went to be named Christian Album of 2010 on Amazon.com and the Christian Breakthrough Album of...

, an up and coming CCM artist, recently recorded a version of this hymn titled "Sparrow" in an iTunes live album.


The theme of the song is inspired by the words of Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 in the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, as referenced by Mrs. Doolittle in Elmira, New York
Elmira, New York
Elmira is a city in Chemung County, New York, USA. It is the principal city of the 'Elmira, New York Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses Chemung County, New York. The population was 29,200 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Chemung County.The City of Elmira is located in...

: "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26) and "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" (Matthew 10:29-31).

Civilla Martin, who wrote the lyrics, said this about her inspiration to write the song based in the scriptures outlined above,

External links