Bunyan, John. This great allegorist cannot be included amongst hymn writers, except on the ground that the piece, “He that is down needs fear no fall," from pt. ii. of his Pilgrim's Progress, 1684, is given in a limited number of hymnals. The son of a mechanic, he was born at Elstow, 1628; was a Baptist minister at Bedford; and died in London, Aug. 1688.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)… Go to person page >
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.