Frances Ellen Watkins Harper-The Sparrow’s Fall-Poem for the First Sunday of Lent, Year 1B

The Englewood Review of Books curates a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (More poems for Lent 1B can be found here)


The Sparrow’s Fall

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

to accompany the lectionary reading: Psalm 25:1-10

Too frail to soar — a feeble thing —

It fell to earth with fluttering wing;

But God, who watches over all,

Beheld that little sparrow’s fall.


‘Twas not a bird with plumage gay,

Filling the air with its morning lay;

‘Twas not an eagle bold and strong,

Borne on the tempest’s wing along.


Only a brown and weesome thing,

With drooping head and listless wing;

It could not drift beyond His sight

Who marshals the splendid stars of night.


Its dying chirp fell on His ears,

Who tunes the music of the spheres,

Who hears the hungry lion’s call,

And spreads a table for us all.


Its mission of song at last is done,

No more will it greet the rising sun;

That tiny bird has found a rest

More calm than its mother’s downy breast


Oh, restless heart, learn thou to trust

In God, so tender, strong and just;

In whose love and mercy everywhere

His humblest children have a share.


If in love He numbers ev’ry hair,

Whether the strands be dark or fair,

Shall we not learn to calmly rest,

Like children, on our Father’s breast?


*** This poem is in the public domain,

  and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.



Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 – February 22, 1911) was an abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer. She was one of the first African American women to be published in the United States. Born free in Baltimore, Maryland, Harper had a long and prolific career, publishing her first book of poetry at the age of 20. At 67, she published her widely-praised novel Iola Leroy (1892), placing her among the first Black women to publish a novel.  (

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