Hymn: He who would valiant be/Who would true valour see

Sung in Worship: George Turcotte Funeral Service, 8 June

The original words, by John Bunyan (1628-1688), are from the second edition (1684) of the second Part of Bunyan’s complicated  (but not always complex) Christian allegory,The Pilgrim’s Progress. The poem is spoken about the character Valiant-for-Truth, not by him, as is sometimes suggested.  Percy Dearmer significantly altered Bunyan’s words for TEH in 1906, where it is attributed to “J Bunyan and others.”  He changed the opening lines, omitted the lion and the hobgoblin, and changed the last stanza.  Dearmer later  explained, “[Bunyan] had not written it for a hymn, and it was not suitable as a hymn without adaptation.”  He notes that the word “hobgoblin” is not used in any English religious writing, and is only used, as in Shakespeare, in connection with fairies.  
Bunyan, a soldier in the Parliamentary Army, left the military in 1646 and shortly after that had a religious awakening.  Brought up in the established church, he turned to preaching in an evangelical, non-conformist group, the Bedford Meeting.  After the Restoration, however, he was imprisoned for preaching without a license, and an initial sentence of 3 months lengthened into 12 years (with varied and numerous periods of parole).  During this time Bunyan wrote his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, and began The Pilgrim’s Progress, which he finished during a second, brief, period of incarceration in 1676-77.

The tune setting these words in 1906, and still used, is  RVW’s “Monk’s Gate,”  adapted from a folk tune called “Valiant” or “Welcome Sailor” for the words “Our captain calls all hands on board tomorrow.” RVW (1872-1958) collected the tune as sung by Mrs. Harriet Verrall during a collecting trip in Sussex in May 1904.