(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.