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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