Myra Brooks Welch, Lilly Walters, and “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”

Not one for long titles, this one just had to be this long!  I didn’t want to leave anyone out.  This is an amazing story.

Until this morning, I knew nothing about the author of “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”  Here’s what I found.  Since the poem had been persistent about staying on my mind, I finally researched it.  Of all places, I found a most thorough story about the writing of his poem on a site selling a book written for people who have use of only one hand.

Lilly Walters, who designed the method and wrote the book on typing with one hand, lost most of her left hand in an accident.  She was motivated by Welch for that reason.  You see, Mrs. Welch was crippled with arthritis to the point of wheelchair bound.  Her finger joints were so awkward to use on a typewriter that she positioned a pencil in each hand eraser side down and poked at the keys one at a time.  That is how she wrote “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”

She wrote and submitted the poem to her church bulletin signing it Anonymous.  From there, the poem gained popularity but was always published, author unknown, until one day her son, who happened to be in the audience, stood up and said, “I know the author, it is my mother.”  He gave some of the details of his mother’s life.  She is now known as the “poet with the singing soul.”  Here it is for your encouragement.

The Touch of the Masters Hand

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?” “A dollar, a dollar”; then 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 caroling 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 dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And 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 understnad what changed its worth.” Swift came the reply: “The touch
of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
“mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. “He is
going” once, and “going twice, He’s 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’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.

The source for one hand typing keyboards is:

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing them, but simply directing you to them if that happens to be something you might need.  I know nothing of their business practices.



  1. Glenda

    Oh, Karyl!!! This has been a favorite poem of mine for over 40 years, and I have never heard the story of its origin! Tears always come into my eyes when I hear or read it, just thinking of the Truth it holds. Thank you for sharing this knowledge with us. It means so much more, now that I am aware of the struggles of the woman who put the words onto paper.

  2. Wow. Thanks so much for posting this. Gives the beloved poem a whole new meaning.

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