My friend was buried on Saturday. Chiquita Tate was an attorney and a member and friend of those of us who sit on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. She was horribly murdered and the police are still looking for her killer. We all miss that big, old smile of hers.
We said goodbye at a service that was made of good preaching, eulogies and music. One of the solos was a particular favorite of mine: His Eye Is On The Sparrow. I really can't remember the first time I heard it. I've played it many times both as a solo and accompanying a soloist.
It's always been assumed to be a black gospel song. And it is a staple of black services. But, in fact, it was written by white songwriters: Civilla D. Martin, who wrote the lyrics in 1905, and Charles Gabriel, who was the composer of the music. Ethel Waters, the great gospel singer, used it as the title of her autobiography.
Mrs. Martin based her words on two things: scripture (Matt. 6:26 and Matt. 10: 29-31), and a visit with a sick friend. She and her husband were in Elmira, NY, paying a call on Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for many, many years, and her husband was confined to a wheel chair. Yet, Mrs. Martin observed, they both lived Christian lives and, in spite of their infirmities, were both so happy. Mrs. Martin asked Mrs. Doolittle why they were so glad. Mrs. Doolittle answered, "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."
A couple of years ago I made this cushion from one of Tanya Anderson's patterns from The Sampler Girl. It sits in my living room and I see it every time I pass by. It's just a lovely pillow honoring such a fine, fine Gospel hymn.
Check out some options on You Tube. Simply type in the words of the title. Look especially for: Sandi Patti, Fantasia and Lauryn Hill et Tanya Blount. Lauryn Hill is the one who sang it in Sister Act 2.
At times like Saturday, it's often difficult why things happen. Why Chiquita died so young and so brutally. Then, hearing the words of this song, one realizes that things happen according to God's plan and that He is watching over us.