A bit of church trivia: In The Man Who Rewrote Bunyan , Christopher Howse writes of Percy Dearmer — “a strange cove,  but an energetic one” who “combined the visionary and practical,” notably in his  Parson’s Handbook —  who was, kind of, the author of  He Who Would Valiant Be , a hymn familiar to Anglicans, having adapted some lines from Bunyan’s  Pilgrim’s Progress .

Bunyan’s poem begins: “Who would true valour see,?/ Let him come hither;?/ One here will constant be,?/ Come wind, come weather.” The English Hymnal version was rewritten by Percy Dearmer, to begin: “He who would valiant be?/ ’Gainst all disaster,?/ Let him in constancy?/ Follow the Master.”

The Master is no doubt meant for Jesus, and Dearmer introduced explicit references to the Lord and the Spirit. It must, of course be remembered that Bunyan was writing an allegory, so his lyrics are only metaphorically Christian. They are, I think, more vigorous, as Dearmer cut out references to a lion, hobgoblin and foul fiend.


The tune was written by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Articles by David Mills

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