I came across this perhaps 65 years ago, reading a copy of my grandmother’s “Our Daily Bread.” I was enchanted by it, and read it so much I memorized it. It was printed simply as a paragraph, and it took me some time to realize it was actually a poem. Several years ago, someone put it to music. It has been years since I’ve seen or heard it, and what follows is largely from memory. I’ve “updated” it a little, and I’m sure it’s not exactly otherwise as I first read it. A lot of time has passed. Anyway, here it is, with apologies to Myra Brooks Welch.
‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good people?” he cried. “Who’ll start the bidding for me.”
“A dollar. A dollar. Now two. Only two!? Two dollars and who’ll make it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three…” – but no!
From the room far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow.
Then wiping the dust from the old violin and tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet, as sweet as an angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?” and he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand!” “A thousand!” “Do I hear two?” “Two thousand, who’ll make it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice, and going and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them said, “We do not quite understand.
“What changed it’s worth?” Swift came the reply, “The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man, and woman, too, with a life that’s been battered by sin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd, much like that old violin.
A night of revel, a glass of wine, a game – as they “party on”.
They are “going once,” and “going twice.” “Going” and almost “gone”.
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd can never quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.
I’m so thankful for that touch.