John Bunyan (1628–1688) was born in Elstow, Bedfordshire, to a family with gypsy associations. After his army service during the Civil War, Bunyan returned to his Bedfordshire home to preach the Gospel. He became a powerful speaker and was arrested in 1660 for holding unlawful meetings. After his liberation in 1671 under the Declaration of Indulgence, Bunyan became Paster of Elstow Church, where, despite a few interruptions, he remained for sixteen years. In 1675 he was arrested again and sent to Bedford Gaol, which earned him the nickname ‘Tinker out of Bedford Gaol’! It was during his incarceration there that he began to write Pilgrim’s Progress
; the first part of this allegorical work was published in 1678 but it was not completed until 1685. Bunyan died in London three years later and was buried in Bunhill Fields. He who would valiant be
is taken from the second part of Pilgrim’s Progress
and was revised by Percy Dearmer (1867–1936).
‘Monks Gate’ was adapted from an English folk tune by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), who compiled and edited The English Hymnal of 1906. He began collecting English folk tunes in 1902 and used them to great effect in a number of his compositions. Vaughan Williams wrote many original hymn tunes including ‘Down Ampney’, which is sung to Come down O Love Divine and some of his best-known adaptations of folk tunes are ‘Easter Song’ (All creatures of our God and King), ‘Quem pastores laudavere’ (Jesu good above all other) and ‘Forest Green’ (O little town of Bethlehem).
from notes by Sarah Langdon © 1999