Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beauty in Tradition and Religion

As a child, this was a favourite of mine. It is not as well-known in the States as it is in England. The words are by John Bunyon and the music is the traditional 'St. Dunstan's'.

Here is another rendition of this hymn as a medley with other traditional airs.

The modern lyrics are:

He who would valiant be
'Gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy
Follow the Master.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent,
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound
His strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might
Though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right
To be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend
Us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away!
I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.'

Calvinism and its gloom and doom apart, this song is part of the fabric of traditional English religion and possesses an intrinsic beauty and strength that frees it from dogma.

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