Pilgrim

The music and words you hear early on are indelible. In childhood I was elated every time Joy to the World rang out through Christ Church Deer Park. I was stunned, utterly, by the beauty of Christina Rossetti's poem-hymn:

"In the bleak mid-winter / Frosty wind made moan / Earth stood hard as iron, / Water like a stone; / Snow had fallen, snow on snow, / Snow on snow, / In the bleak midwinter / Long ago."

And I learned to lean a bit on To be a Pilgrim, adapted from a section of The Pilgrim's Progress, while making a metaphor of it. I still yearn with it, un-religiously:

"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."

The next verse is rather fabulous in John Bunyan's original version:

"Hobgoblin 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."

Hobgoblin! The music, itself adapted a century ago from a folk song about a sailor and his lover, The Captain Calls All Hands, is rich and strong. She pleads:

"How can you go abroad fighting for strangers? / Why don't you stay at home free from all danger? / I will roll you in my arms, my own dearest jewel / So stay at home with me, love, and don't be cruel."

I wonder who first sang those words. They seem very modern.