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HYMN FOR PENTECOST 4 Not even one small sparrow/ Ikke en spurv til Jorden

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Text: Ingeborg Prytz Fougner (1913-1996) Tune: Sigurd Lunde (1916-2006)

Leaving all to follow Jesus. James Tissot

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 rules over all.

Trust this when storms are sweeping

Leaves from the autumn trees,

Trust when the fires are burning

Over the barren weeds.

Trust it when undefended

You battle evil pow’rs,

Trust it when sad and lonely

Pain fills your days and hours.

Trust it when things feel broken

And, it seems, getting worse.

Trust it when someone loses

And everything seems cursed.

Trust when your hope seems hopeless

And nothing good seems true,

Not even one small sparrow…

Trust this, God’s word for you.

Tr. Gracia Grindal


Lutheran hymns from the Nordic countries, where there was a Hymn Explosion in the last half of the twentieth century, do not paraphrase Scripture, they preach it and apply it to contemporary life. Jesus has just told the disciples some hard truths about their ministries. And then he assures them of God's loving constant care with this wonderful promise about the sparrows. This hymn applies that promise to our lives today.

One can hear the desperation in Fougner's words. Like most hymn writers, she has experienced what she is writing about: feeling broken, hopeless and bleak. She has learned enough from those experiences to testify to us that God has not abandoned us no matter how distant he seems.

This is where the hard test of faith comes. When things are going well, we may be able to go about with a kind of confidence and careless non-attention to our lives, but when things are going bad, and we feel defeated, then we cry out for help. It is in that cry to something outside of ourselves that we understand faith.

What is true about these moments, when we are facing our sorrows and fears, sharp and painful, is that we learn we are not sufficient to the day. It is in loss and defeat that we know our need. Our faith is all about defeat and loss. In our defeat, we call out for help. The defeat of Christ that led to his death was really his victory. He submitted to all the terror humanity could visit upon him and died. But that was not the last word. God raised him up. Death is no longer the victor, Christ is.

Just now, in the sparkling days of midsummer, people celebrate the goodness of creation and the pleasures of the flesh. God gave us much to enjoy in his creation, but these gifts are a means to enjoyment. Pleasure for its own sake makes an end, or idol, out of what should be a means, as Augustine would say.In other words, when we worship the means, not the ends, we become hedonistic idolators. Canaanite religion, for example, knew how to enjoy the flesh. At first glance it may have seemed attractive. But, as one of my colleagues would say, it was useless in the face of death. One cannot escape the final enemy through hedonism. It always leaves one empty. As Jesus would say, it is death to seek to save one's life.

Christ tells us we will not escape these times. Go through them, fully experiencing them, and he will be with us as he is with the sparrows. Those who know the Savior and his loving care for them can go into the darkest night with confidence. While they may suffer abandonment and terror, they cling to Christ with a kind of joy that nothing can quench. They believe that God goes with them through their suffering even if they can’t see or hear him. That does not mean is he is absent. He is there whether we sense it or not. We trust Christ’s promises.This song says it about as well as any, “This is God’s word for you.”


Bishop Sigurd Lunde

Fougner was a Norwegian author. She married a pastor and was an active member of the Norwegian Husmorforbund/Housewives Association. She wrote several collections of poetry, translated dramas, and theological works. Her collection of hymns, I stillhet og tillit was published in 1981. Sigurd Lunde was a Norwegian theologian and newspaper columnist who taught at Menighetsfakultet from 1941. He was a program secretary of the Norwegian Broadcasting Company and was named bishop of Stavanger in 1977. He wrote both texts and tunes and this is one of his most well known tunes. The hymn is popular also in Denmark.


Vegard Hanssen sung by Ragnhild Hanssen

Trude Kristin Klæboe, Saxophone and soprano

Galactic Park Dag Heggset

Klaus and Thomas

Christiansen Orchard Enterprises

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