From the Archives: The Pilgrim Hymn

The hymn “He Who Would Valiant Be” is taken from a poem in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Part II, found in the section about Mr. Valiant-for-truth. It was adapted for use as a hymn by Percy Dearmer, one of the editors of the English Hymnal, 1906.

Canon Douglas, who wrote the music (“St. Dunstan’s”), commented concerning this hymn: “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” [From The Hymnal 1940 Companion (New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1949), p. 331.]

He Who Would Valiant Be

He who would valiant be 
’Ginst all disaster, 
Let him in constancy 
Follow the Master. 
There’s no discouragement 
Shall make him once relent 
His first avowed intent 
To be a pilgrim. 

Who so beset him round 
With dismal stories, 
Do but themselves confound, 
His strength the more is. 
No foes shall stay his might 
Though he with giants fight; 
He will make good his right 
To be a pilgrim. 

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend 
Us with Thy Spirit, 
We know we at the end 
Shall life inherit. 
Then fancies flee away! 
I’ll fear not what men say, 
I’ll labor night and day 
To be a pilgrim.

By John Bunyan

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #11 in 1986]

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