On London Bridge there stood alone, and sad, a century ago, a poor old beggar man. He scraped away wretchedly on his old miserable violin in the attempt to draw a few pennies from the passers-by, but no one seemed to listen or stop, and his poor old heart was down in his toeless boots, and cold. A stranger passed along the bridge and suddenly halted beside the poor old fiddler, and listened while the weary, wistful eyes searched his face for, 'Charity, for the love of God!' Instead of the hoped-for penny the stranger asked for the fiddle; he would help with a tune.
The stiff, numbed fingers were glad to pass the old thing over, and the new hands began to play a low, plaintive melody that made the first passer-by find a tear start from his heart on the way to his eye, and he stopped and threw a penny in the old beggar's tattered hat, but still lingered, for the tune was going on. Then another stopped; another penny, and he lingered too. Then another, another, and yet they came and stopped. In the red heap of coppers in the old man's hat were even now appearing the white gleam of sixpences and shillings, and here and there the yellow glint of half-sovereigns and sovereigns. In a few minutes there was a dense crowd of thousands of people massing more and more on the bridge, while yonder big policeman, instead of saying 'Move on!' placed himself, with tears in his eyes, within hearing of the wondrous strains. Still from this decrepit old violin, melody, like an echo of the song that the angels sang, floated over their heads, and the decrepit old hat became brimful of coins.
'It is Paganini! It is Paganini!' passed the whisper along.
Aye, it is the Master—the Master Player!
Poor beggars are we on the ancient Bridge of Sighs, scraping to bring melody out of timeworn, sin-wormed hearts; poverty-stricken, joyless, with no resources to meet life's sorrows, fierce temptations, misfortunes, and out of them draw sweetness and strength. Then a Stranger passes by, and stands, listening to our pitiful attempt to make music out of life. With loving, tender eyes, He gazes into ours, and pride and self-sufficiency melt away: humbly we hand Him our poverty-stricken hearts.
In a moment, fullness of joy, laughter and gladness fill our souls. The Hand that was pierced has taken the instrument, and made it anew. The Heart that was broken for us pours life and love into ours. The Master has come, the Lord of the Human Heart, the Controller of time and eternity. We have found Life's harmony in His fellowship. It is Jesus! It is Jesus!
All my life was wrecked by sin and shame,
Discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirr'd the slumb'ring chords again.—The Pilgrim
(Luke 18. 35-43; Philem. 11)