HYMN 15 Not Even One Small Sparrow
Updated: May 3, 2020
Norwegian: Ikke en spurv til jorden
Text: Ingeborg Prytz Fougner (1913-1996) Tune: Sigurd Lunde (1916-2006)
1. Not even one small sparrow
Falls to the earth alone.
No single soul who’s dying
Dies without being known.
No single flow’r can blossom
No single tear can fall
Without our Father’s knowledge
He who is over all.
2. Trust this when storms are sweeping
Leaves from the autumn trees,
Trust when the fires are burning
Scorching the barren weeds.
Trust it when undefended
You battle evil pow’rs,
Trust it when sad and lonely
Pain fills your days and hours.
3. Trust it when things feel broken
And, it seems, getting worse,
Trust it when someone loses
All and they feel they’re cursed,
Trust when your hope seems hopeless
And nothing good seems true.
Not even one small sparrow….
This is God’s word for you.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
Akk og takk! These are the two ways we pray, a Norwegian pastor once said in a sermon.
He reflected on the fact that after an operation his pain was so bad that while he was
recovering all he could say was Akk! His mother-in-law upbraided him and said “Kan du
ikke si takk!” Can’t you say thanks!
Sometimes that is hard. This hymn, a popular hymn among youth in Norway, seems
almost bleak. It describes many situations where God does not seem to be present: natural disasters, the seeming triumph of evil, being lonely, feeling broken, losing everything, even your hope. These are the feelings many of us have these days. Things seem to be getting worse and worse. Is there any light to see at the end of the tunnel?
Ingeborg Prytz Fougner (1913-1996), a Norwegian author and wife of Pastor Ivar
Fougner, who served in Kragerø and Sofienberg Church in Oslo, wrote this hymn not
long after the Second World War had ended. In her life and work she undoubtedly had
met many people who thought all was lost. Even after the war in Norway, it took years to
recover from the Depression and Nazi occupation. Life was hard. She looked at these
issues with a level gaze and addressed many feelings of hopelessness that people around
her were feeling. The hymn exhorts them to remember the promise of Jesus in Matthew
10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the
group apart from your Father? But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not,
therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
The hymn is not about looking back at trouble, but living through it. Even in these
moments of feeling abandoned, God is with us. Jesus says, Fear not. The Father knows
everything and cares for you.
Prayer is really this—to go to the Father with our terrors, all that is causing us fear and
trepidation. We can cry akk! freely, knowing he cares for us. We wait in hope, even in
these bleak days, believing in all this there is still much to be thankful for! This is God’s
word to you. Thanks be to God!
The first tune, the one in the current Norwegian hymnal, was written around 1973 by
Sigurd Lunde, Bishop of Stavanger. He was a good friend of Mindekirken and many
Norwegian American church people. (Sorry there is not an English version on Youtube.)
The second tune by Ivar Skippervold seems to be more popular with the contemporary
Sigurd Lunde singing his own song
Krupka Trio/a jazz version