The Hermit’s Hymn

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

“To be a Pilgrim” (also commonly known as “He who would Valiant be”) is the only hymn John Bunyan is credited with writing but is indelibly associated with him. It first appeared in Part 2 of Pilgrim’s Progress, written in 1684. The hymn recalls the words of Hebrews 11:13: “…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

The words were modified extensively by Percy Dearmer for the 1906 “The English Hymnal”. At the same time it was given a new tune by British composer Vaughan Williams using the traditional Sussex melody “Monk’s Gate”. The hymn has also been sung to the melody “Moab” (John Roberts, 1870) and “St. Dunstans” (Charles W. Douglas, 1917).
A good folk version of the hymn is found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yHJMPw8RHU

Bunyan’s original version is not commonly sung in churches today, perhaps because of the references to “hobgoblin” and “foul fiend.” However, one commentator has said: “Bunyan’s burly song strikes a new and welcome note in our Hymnal. The quaint sincerity of the words stirs us out of our easygoing dull Christianity to the thrill of great adventure.”
Bunyan
John Bunyan (28 November 1628 – 31 August 1688) was an English Christian writer and preacher, who is well known for his book “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (1678-1684). Though he became a non-conformist and member of an Independent church, and although he has been described both as a Baptist and as a Congregationalist, he himself preferred to be described simply as a Christian.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: