- To be a Pilgrim
"To be a Pilgrim" is the only hymn
John Bunyanis credited with writing but is indelibly associated with him. It first appeared in Part 2 of Pilgrim's Progress, written in 1684while he was serving a twelve-year sentence in Bedford Gaolon a charge of preaching without a licence. 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". ["The English Hymnal", London: Oxford University Press, 1906] At the same time it was given a new tune by British composer Vaughan Williamsusing the traditional Sussexmelody " Monk's Gate". The hymn has also been sung to the melody "Moab" (John Roberts, 1870) and St. Dunstans (Charles W. Douglas, 1917).
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." ["The Hymnal 1940 Companion", New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1949, p. 331.]
The hymn's refrain "to be a pilgrim" has entered the language and has been been used in the title of a number of books dealing with pilgrimage in a literal or spiritual sense. [For example, the novel "To be a Pilgrim" by
Joyce Cary, "To be a Pilgrim: A spiritual notebook" by Basil Hume, "To be a Pilgrim: The medieval pilgrimage experience" by Sarah Hopper, and "To be a Pilgrim: The Anglican ethos in history" by Frederick Quinn.] Maddy Priorand the Carnival Band recorded the song on their album " Sing Lustily And With Good Courage".
* [http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/w/hwhowvbe.htm He Who Would Valiant Be, John Bunyan]
* [http://www.cyberhymnal.org/mid/m/o/n/monks_gate.mid Monk's Gate]
* [http://www.refuel.org.uk/curric/belief_file/p1_pilg.html A verse sung to the melody Monk's Gate]
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