This uplifting poem eloquently conveys the beauty and perfection of each individual soul—as long as you think of your soul as the violin and a God-realized Guru as the Master. True, the casual reader might not recognize the lyric’s spiritual theme, but author Myra Brooks Welch was a deeply spiritual woman, as you can see by her biography below.
THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND
‘Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people,” he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three . . .”
From the room far back a gray-bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow.
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its bow.
“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone,” said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.
“What changed its worth?”
Swift came the reply:
“The touch of the Master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune
All battered with bourbon and gin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
WHO WAS MYRA BROOKS WELCH?
According to this online essay, Myra Brooks Welch, a resident of La Verne, California, was called “The poet with the singing soul.” Hers was a very musical family. As a young woman, Myra’s special love was playing the organ.
In 1921, she heard a speaker address a group of students. She said she became filled with light, and “Touch of the Master’s Hand wrote itself in 30 minutes!” She sent it anonymously to her church news bulletin. She felt it was a gift from God, and didn’t need her name on it. It’s popularity spread like magic. Finally, several years later, the poem was read at a religious international convention – “author unknown.” A young man stood up and said, “I know the author, and it’s time the world did too. It was written by my mother, Myra Welch.”
Then her name, as well her other beautiful works of poetry became known worldwide. All of her poetry told of the rejoicing she had in God’s love.
What the world did not see, was the woman who created these masterpieces: Myra in her wheelchair, battered and scarred from severe arthritis, which had taken away her ability to make music. Instead, her musical soul spoke through her poetry.
She took one pencil in each of her badly disabled hands. Using the eraser end, she would slowly type the words, the joy of them outweighing the pain of her efforts. Her words, a joyous expression of the wonders of life, as seen by a singing soul, touched by the Master’s Hand.
Here is a four-minute video dramatizing Myra’s famous verse:
Here is a moving and poignant reminder of the magic that happens when a violin and a beautiful spirit work in concert.
Click here to see all my posts featuring poets.