Bunyan Poem on Valor and the Christian Life

John Bunyan is one of many historical examples of a pastor/poet. Pilgrim’s Progress contains a number of poems by Bunyan. Below is one I have appreciated for some time. In the story it comes from Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. Louis Benson, prominent hymnologist, described this song as “dramatically virile” and stated, “to Bunyan bravery is the root virtue of Christian character and the only possible equipment for the pilgrim life.” Coming from a man who was imprisoned for over 12 years, this is all the more meaningful.

This poem in a slightly modified form was set to music and included in some hymnals as “He Who Would Valiant Be.”

This though is Bunyan’s original:

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 labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.

In our day, when we suffer less, may we still share this resoluteness and faith.
(Quotes from Louis F. Benson, “The Hymns of John Bunyan,” Papers of the Hymn Society, 1930)

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