'TWAS battered and scarred and the auctioneer thought
it scarcely was worth his while
to waste much time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks?" he cried,
"who'll start the bidding for me?
A guinea, a guinea," then "Two, two guineas,
and who will make it three?
Three guineas once, three guineas twice,
going for three..." but no-
up through the crowd came a grey-haired man
with a step that was calm and slow.
They watched him finger the dusty wood,
and tighten the loosened strings,
and raise the bow- and the violin sang
as a carolling angel sings.
Pure and sweet the melody flowed
and rose fell on the air, till to move or speak or even to breathe
would seem a sacrilege there.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
in 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 guineas, and who'll make it 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 cried:
"We do not quite understand;
what changed its worth?" He simply replied
"The touch of the master's hand."
And many a man with a life out of tune,
and battered and scarred with sin,
is auctioned cheap to a heedless crowd
like that dusty 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 is there, and the thoughtless crowd
can never quite understand
the worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought
by the Touch of the Master's Hand