Recently I have been struck by the words of some of the more traditional hymns we sometimes sing. Too often I may find myself singing along quite heartily while my mind is elsewhere – usually on the next part of the service (a hazard that must befall many a worship leader). If I had chosen that particular hymn, the chances are that I have read it and thought about it (if not exactly prayed it) at home – and therefore done it some justice. Reading hymns out loud as a poem makes me concentrate more on the words and their meaning. So for each Sunday in Lent  I shall choose a hymn to post. It will be in the public domain (no copyright issues) and I will have read it out loud at least once.

This one is from John Bunyan who wrote “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. He spent some time in gaol as he refused to conform to the religious norms of his time.

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.

John Bunyan (1628-88), Percy Dearmer (1867-1936)

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