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A Hymn History
“His Eye Is on the Sparrow”
By Mrs. Civilla D. Martin, 1869-1948
 
“God Will Take Care of You” (p. 180 in our hymnal) is a wonderful song that was written by Mrs. Civilla D. Martin, although it wasn’t her most famous.  A Canadian by birth, Mrs. Martin was educated in the schools of Nova Scotia and became a school teacher.  Before long she met and married Dr. Walter Martin, an evangelist and musician of sorts, and she joined him in his itinerant work.  Her poem, “God Will Take Care of You,” was written for her husband who set it to music.  Although she had written poetry for a number of years, it was the success of this poem-turned-to-song-lyric that encouraged her to keep writing.
 
Early in the 1900’s Mrs. Martin learned that a dear friend was bed ridden and in a severe state of depression.  Concerned, she left their home, located on the campus of a Bible school in Johnson City, New York, and made her way by train to see the lady who lived in Elmira, New York.
 
While there, Mrs. Martin told her friend of an incident which happened a short time earlier, when she experienced God’s protecting hand during an illness.  After hearing the story, her friend said, “You know, I shouldn’t worry, should I?  We are promised in the Bible that God watches over each little sparrow.”   Mrs. Martin agreed, “He surely does.”
 
The journey home was made shorter for Mrs. Martin by the satisfying realization that she had helped her friend.  When she arrived home, she sat down and penned the words to one of the most beautiful and famous of all gospel songs, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”  Her husband tried his hand at writing a musical score, but neither of them were satisfied with it.  So the words were forwarded to Mr. Charles H. Gabriel, a famous songwriter, along with a request for him to write some fitting music for it.  He did so, and his melody has been the vehicle that carried Mrs. Martin’s poem around the world.  The song was first sung in 1905 by Charles M. Alexander during the Torrey-Alexander revival in Royal Albert Hall, England.
 
It is interesting that our Lord chose the most common of all birds, sparrows of little value, to teach such a profound truth.  In God’s eyes, no one is insignificant!  Another bird can teach us an equally important truth, “…they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” (Isaiah 40:31)