March 10, 2013

Who Would True Valor See

To Be A Pilgrim

Who Would True Valor See was written by the English writer and lay preacher, John Bunyan (1628-1688). The text of the hymn is drawn from Part 2, 8th Stage of his famous work of Christian allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress (1678). It is set to the tune Monk's Gate, a traditional Sussex melody adapted for Bunyan's text by the English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Vaughan Williams returned to this hymn throughout his career, culminating in one of his last major works: the opera, The Pilgrim's Progress (1951). The first video below features Vaughan William's 1906 adaption, while the second is by Maddy Prior with The Carnival Band from the album, Sing Lustily and with Good Courage (1990). Both of these versions feature one of the true (and arguably endearing) curiosities of Christian hymnody: the appearance of a 'hobgoblin', a friendly but troublesome creature found in English folklore. Bunyan's opening line of the 3rd stanza: "Hobgoblin nor foul fiend" is sometimes altered to something less mythical, such as "No power of evil fiend", as it is in the Office. In the Liturgy of the Hours, Who Would True Valor See is used in the Common of Holy Men.

WHO WOULD TRUE VALOUR SEE by John Bunyan, 1678 (Public Domain)

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.

Performed by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band

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