Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.@Psalm 124:7
Some years ago, in
The Youths Companion, appeared the first three verses of this song…They were afterwards found in the vest pocket of a man who died while in prison.
During a meeting held in one of a Western state’s prisons, after the sermon, the chaplain, Rev. Gun, D. D., gave an invitation for any who so desired to speak. Several spoke. I sang the three verses this song then contained.
For a moment there was a death-like silence, when a man wearing prison clothes tremblingly arose, supporting himself on the bench in front of him, and with a quivering voice said:
Gentlemen, according to the sentiment of that song, although I serve my time, and resolve to do better, I can never rise to the position I once occupied.
He sank back, covered his face with his hands and began to sob. Many were touched by his emotion, and wept with him. I bowed my head in shame as I considered the sad truth of his statement. That night, on bended knees, I said:
O God! I cannot sing those verses again; they do not contain the grace of Thy love and power to save and lift men up.
While thus praying, the fourth as it now appears in the song, came to me. I could scarcely wait for the next Sunday, that I might go and sing the additional verse. The hour came, and in a few words I thanked the man who had reproved me, sat down to my little organ, and sang the song again. There seemed to be little interest during the singing of the first three verses, but there was a marked change when the new verse rang out.
The blessing of God and the Holy Ghost fell upon the meeting. The man who uttered the reproof the previous Sunday was the first to bow his head and weep. Many followed. The chaplain asked those would accept the mercy and love of God offered in the fourth verse, to lift their right hand. Many responded, and thank God! the hand of my reprover was among them.
A few years after, at the close of a meeting held in the Y.M.C.A. Auditorium of Chicago, I was about to leave, when a well dressed gentleman stopped me, took hold of my hand and said:
God bless you, Brother Bilhorn. I’d rather see you than the President of the United States. I said,
You have the better of me. Who are you, please?
He seemed greatly surprised that I did not recognize him. He then said,
Don’t you remember the fourth verse of Grasping his hand again, I said,
The Bird with a Broken Wing?
How goes it with you?
Goes it? Why haven’t you heard? I was pardoned a year after you were there. Instead of serving the sentence of eight years, I served a little more than three. I found good employment at once and have since paid my indebtedness with interest and compound interest, my family are with me again. I a trustee and a deacon in a church and I am as happy as it possible for me to be. I could not refrain from shouting
Glory to God!
In the winter of 1902, in a western city, at the close of the Sunday evening service where I had related this incident and sung the song, as the people were leaving the church, a fine appearing gentleman approached me, handed me his business card and requested me to call upon him the next day. I complied with his request and found him in one of the finest business places in the city in which he had become a partner.
He told me how in that Sunday prison meeting he had sat beside the man who had reproved me, and on the following Sunday had listened to the fourth verse of the song, been blessed by it and resolved to live a Christian life. By the grace of God he is to-day a respected citizen in the social and church life of his city and helpful to those about him.