The Touch of the Master's Hand

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"The Touch of the Master's Hand", also sometimes called The Old Violin,[1] is a Christian poem written in 1921[2] by Myra Brooks Welch.[3]

The poem tells of a battered old violin that is about to be sold as the last item at an auction for a pittance, until a violinist steps out of the audience and plays the instrument, demonstrating its beauty and true value. The violin then sells for $3,000 instead of a mere $3. The poem ends by comparing this instrument touched by the hand of a master musician to the life of a sinner that is touched by the hand of God.

Biblical Allusions[edit]

Mess of pottage is used to describe that for which a sinner might sell his or her soul. This term was first coined by John Capgrave in reference to the Biblical story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for lentil stew,[4] found in Genesis 25:29-34.


Welch's famous poem inspired other works. Contemporary Christian artist Wayne Watson recorded a song by the same name, with lyrics adapted to the music based on this poem. The song was written by John Kramp in 1974 while a freshman at Baylor University and recorded for Wayne Waston's first album Workin' In The Final Hour in 1980 and recorded 12 years later on his How Time Flies compilation project.[5]


The poem was adapted into two short-films: Touch of the Master's Hand (1980) directed by Jimmy Murphy, and The Touch of the Master's Hand (1987) directed by T.C. Christensen.

About the author[edit]

Myra Brooks Welch was born in 1877 and died in 1959. While she authored many other poems,[6] she is best known for this work.[2]


  1. ^ "The Touch of the Master's Hand – the Old Violin". Retrieved 2015-06-07.
  2. ^ a b "Myra Brooks Welch – Poetry & Biography". Retrieved 2015-06-07.
  3. ^ "The Touch of the Master's Hand by Myra Brooks Welch". Retrieved 2015-06-07.
  4. ^ John capgrave, "A Treatise of the Orders under the Rule of St. Augustine," in John Capgrave's Lives of St. Augustine and St. Gilbert, ed. by J. J. Munro, EETS 140 (London, 1910), p. 145
  5. ^ " The Touch Of The Master's Hand". Amazon. Retrieved 2015-06-22.
  6. ^ "Myra Brooks Welch Poems – Poems and Poets". Retrieved 2015-06-07.