A Hymn to March and Conquer By

(Ta-dah! Months later, I’ve finally got the video to work.)

If by some blessed providence the complicated link below actually works, you’ll be able to listen to a hymn that will either bring you to tears or to your feet: “To Be a Pilgrim,” with words by John Bunyan and traditional music. You have to select the second example from the left, the one with the picture of Bunyan writing Pilgrim’s Progress, to get the roof-raising, soul-stirring version that I have in mind.


Here are the lyrics, as Bunyan originally wrote them. They were altered some 100 years ago for the English hymnal, where the hymn is well known as “He Who Would Valiant Be.”

Who would true valor 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.

Hobgoblins 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.

It’s not that the woman who sings this creates something sweet and melodious. I can easily imagine King Ryons’ army singing this hymn on the march, in a dozen different languages at once. And the devil’s henchmen had better not stand in their way!

We need more hymns like this.

7 comments on “A Hymn to March and Conquer By

  1. Beautiful hymn. Did the poem originate in Pilgrim’s Progress? It sounds kind of familiar.
    Recently I’ve been captivated by the Handel’s Messiah song ‘I Know that My Redeemer Liveth’ and got into a discussion with an atheist on YouTube who wanted to say that it was just the way the music was written and had nothing to do with the actual meaning of the words, because of course we all know (or at least, enlightened fellow that he is, he knows) that Christianity in itself is bosh; but of course we still make beautiful music, and he doesn’t have to be a Christian to enjoy it!
    I tried to make it clear (without actually turning it into a debate) that while the music is beautiful and soul-stirring, the words are what make it truly great because they give the assurance that death is not the end, and that we will see Christ face to face.
    “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
    Let any atheist, or non-Christian in general, try to come up with something that comes close to the power of those words.

    1. Yes, Laura, the lyrics originally appeared in “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

      Next time you chat with your atheist friend, ask him to play you some music inspired by atheism.

  2. My son in law sings that . I find also that Arise my soul arise, When the battles over, and I want to die on the battlefield to be equally stirring .

    1. Even better is for the bad guys to die on the battlefield.
      I live on Main Street, and people are always driving by with what they laughingly call “music” blasting from their cars. You can be sure they aren’t playing hymns. The character of their music makes me wonder about the condition of their souls… if they have any.

  3. If you like this type of music, I will send you a free CD , just reply to me with you address , and I get one out to you when we return home. Ron Hoy  hoyfamily.net


    1. Thanks, Ron, but I never listen to music CDs or records or tapes. Every now and then something like this hymn comes along that I really love; but on the whole I’m not much for music.

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