Hymn of the day

by Richard on November 18, 2007

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
But 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.

John Bunyan

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }


Kim 11.18.07 at 8:49 am

Great choice! From Pilgrim’s Progress of course - from the scene where Mr. Greatheart and Mr. Valiant-for-truth arrive at the enchanted ground.

Of course Bunyan was a Baptist persecuted by the established Anglican church. So what a fine irony that the poem was sung as a hymn only in the twentieth century when it was altered (to the worse) by the Revd. Dr. Percy Dearmer (1867-1936), a High Church Anglican - who at least was a socialist! The hymn must be sung to the tune of Monks Gate.


Richard 11.18.07 at 9:49 am

In defense of Dearmer, he was acting out of conviction that Bunyan would not have approved the use of his poem as a hymn.
But you’re right, Bunyan’s original (given here) is much to be preferred.

As to ‘Monks Gate’, you get no argument from me. Originally, this was a folk song of course. The first verse was
Our captain calls all hands on board tomorrow,
Leaving my dear to mourn in grief and sorrow.
Dry up those briny tears and leave off weeping,
So happy may we be — at our next meeting.


Beth 11.20.07 at 12:53 am

The original first line, of course, was “He who would valiant be…” which a schoolfriend of mine always misheard as “He who would violent be…”


Richard 11.20.07 at 5:00 pm

I think you’re mistaken, Beth. I’m pretty sure that “Who would true valour see” is Bunyan’s original, and that “He who would valiant be” is Dearmer’s rewrite. I could be wrong, of course.


Beth 11.20.07 at 6:27 pm

Yup. Stupid me. Still a funny mishearing though… I hope!

Why are all your anti-spam words food-related? I swear I’ve gained pounds since I came back to connexions - it makes me hungry all the time ;)


Jack 01.03.08 at 5:36 am

Yes - originally a folk tune from Sussex I believe, and part of that body of native song scrotes (scots) like Victoria Glendenning insist (and are permitted to repeat uncorrected by enemies in the broadsheets) we English don’t possess.


alexandra thrift 06.20.09 at 8:56 pm

Looking at my old Christ’s Hospital school hymn book, I notice that Bunyan’s original three verses are printed ( and must have been what we sang) .

I don’t like Dearmer’s rewrite. It damages the poetry and universality of the original and the changes stand out like a sore thumb.

The “hobgoblins” and “foul fiends” reference was always much enjoyed.

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