He that is down needs fear no fall. J. Bunyan. [Humility.] This hymn was given in Bunyan's Pilgrim’s Progress, 1684, Pt. ii., as the Shepherd Boy's song heard by Great-heart, Christiana, and the rest of the pilgrims in the Valley of Humiliation. It is thus introduced:—
"Now, as they were going along, and talking, they espied a boy feeding his father's sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favoured countenance; and as he sat by himself, he sang. Hark, said Mr. Great-heart, to what the shepherd's boy saith. So they hearkened, and he said:
‘He that is down needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride;
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his Guide.
‘I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because Thou savest such.
'Fullness to such a burden is,
That go on pilgrimage;
Here little, and hereafter bliss,
Is best from age to age.'
"Then said the Guide, Do you hear him? I will dare to say, that this boy lives a merrier life, and wears more of that herb called heart's ease in his bosom, than he that is clod in silk and velvet; but we will proceed in our discourse."
This hymn was frequently included in the older hymn-books, but it is seldom found in modern collections.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)