Now Playing: Have our wings been mended by the Saviour ?
A century ago Peter Bilhorn, an American evangelist and singer, was mightily used of God in his country. About the year 1900 he received from a friend a clipping from the Youth's Companion, containing the poem, "The Bird with the Broken Wing," which was written by Hezekiah Butterworth.
The message of the poem, in brief, was that the wounded bird was the most tragic of sights; that it served mainly as a warning; that its powers of achievement were practically finished. "For the bird with the broken pinion Never soars as high again." Peter's friend suggested that here was something worth setting to music, and, after some effort, the singer prepared a musical score for the words, and placed it in his portfolio. Some weeks later, Bilhorn was invited to conduct a gospel meeting in the Iowa State Prison at Fort Madison. Just before the close of the meeting the chaplain said, "Sing us one more song, Peter," and, without thinking where he was, or how it would sound, the missionary picked up the sheet of the new song, seated himself at the organ, and sang it to the prisoners. When he had finished, a strange thing happened.
A convict, a young man down in the center, sprang to his feet, and, holding on to the seat in front of him, said: "Chaplain, Chaplain, is that true? If what he has been singing is true, there is no hope for me or a lot of us here." And he dropped back into his seat with a sob. Mr. Bilhorn at once realized the dreadful blunder which he had made, but it was too late to explain or apologize. "And for this cause we also give thanks to God unceasingly that, having received the word of the report of God by us, ye accepted, not men's word, but, even as it is truly, God's word, which also works in you who believe" (1 Thess.2:13).
Peter Bilhorn went back to Chicago saying: "It's not true. There must be another verse added to that song." A few days later he wrote: But the soul that comes to Jesus Is saved from every sin And the heart that fully trusts Him Shall a crown of glory win. Then come to the dear Redeemer He will cleanse you from every stain; By the grace that He freely gives you, You shall higher soar again. Then he sat down and wrote to the chaplain asking for the privilege of a return visit to the prison for another service.
Three weeks later he was there. During the service he made his apology, and sang the song with the new verse added. But that is not the end of the story. In May, 1918, nearly twenty years afterwards, Mr. Bilhorn was at a camp m Illinois, singing for the Y.M.C.A. On a Sunday morning, at the close of a meeting in the Tabernacle, a tall, splendid-looking officer in a colonel's uniform came down the aisle to the platform, put out his hand, and said, "Hello, Bilhorn. You don¹t remember me, but I do you. You visited Fort Medicine prison eighteen years ago, and sang about The Bird with the Broken Wing." "Yes," said Peter, "and every time I think of it I am filled with shame."
"Well" said the colonel, "I am the man who asked if the song was true; and when you came back weeks later and gave your testimony, and then sang the new verse, I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. I was able to rise. I am now the colonel of a regiment of infantry preparing to go overseas. By God¹s grace one can higher soar again." (selected)