Praying Hands

The story behind a painting and a poem:

Albrecht Durer, a renowned German Renaissance painter, is most famous for his work, “Praying Hands.”

Briefly, Durer and a friend both wanted to devote their lives to painting, and both reportedly were inordinately gifted. But lack of money threatened their careers until Durer’s friend volunteered to take work as a manual laborer to support them.

Durer protested that that was unfair, but his good friend insisted, reasoning that later, when they could afford it, he would resume his lessons and his career also. But the heavy work affected the young man’s hands, so much so that he was unable to even hold a brush, let alone paint. He never became a painter, but Durer did, and one of his most lasting and most important inspiring works is of his friend’s sacrificial hands folded in prayer.

Editor’s note:

The story behind the painting fascinated Mrs. Helen Steiner Rice and she retold it in verse that goes thusly:

Praying Hands

The “Praying Hands” are much, much more than just a work of art,
They are the “soul’s creation” of a deeply thankful heart----

They are a Priceless Masterpiece that love alone could paint,
And they reveal the selflessness of an unheralded saint----

These hands so scarred and toilworn, tell the story of a man
Who sacrificed his talent in accordance with God’s Plan----

For in God’s Plan are many things man cannot understand,
But we must trust God’s judgement and be guided by His Hand----

Sometimes He asks us to give up our dreams of happiness,
Sometimes we must forego our hopes of fortune and success

Not all of us can triumph or rise to heights of fame,
And many times What Should Be Ours goes to Another Name---

- But he who makes a sacrifice, so another may succeed
Is indeed a true disciple of our blessed Savior’s creed----

For when we “give ourselves away” in sacrifice and love,
We are “laying up rich treasures” in God’s kingdom up above—

And hidden in gnarled, toilworn hands is the truest Art of Living,
Achieved alone by those who’ve learned the “Victory of Giving”---

For any sacrifice on earth, made in the dear Lord’s name,
Assures the giver of a place in heaven’s HALL OF FAME!

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