March 7

“Palms of Victory”, From the Widely-Read Pilgrim’s Progress

"Palms of Victory", From the Widely-Read Pilgrim's Progress 1

Based on available literature, the authorship of the gospel song “Palms of Victory” was closely attributed to Rev. John B. Matthias. Its writing took place in 1836 and at that time, Matthias was serving as a Methodist Episcopalian minister in New York state. Although the minister had no known songwriting history, he still received the credit. That’s for the simple reason that the song cannot be attributed to any other author. Moreover, the song employed complex verses telling a consistent story. Thus, to assume that a community of folk singers contributed to its development is quite impossible. Meanwhile, an American educator and musicologist noted that the song’s text has undergone a progressive simplification as spiritual folk songs from the community featured it. Other names associated with the song are “Deliverance Will Come” and “The Way-worn Traveler.”

Song Basis

Regardless of who the exact author is and given its lyrical content, it’s clear that this gospel song was based on John Bunyan’s 1678 Christian allegory. His work entitled “Pilgrim’s Progress” became one of the most significant works of religious English literature. Remarkably, Bunyan started working on it while he was in the Bedfordshire country prison. In the 19th century, the book became so popular among many Christian readers.

Considering its utilization as a hymn, the latest research showed that the song has limited number of inclusion in the collections between 1875 and 1965. However, starting in the early 1920s, several artists began recording it. Among them was the Carter Family. Then, in more recent years, various country singers had released their own version of the song under different titles. Below is Country Gentlemen’s cover of the gospel song.

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Carter Family, Country Gentlemen, John Bunyan, Rev. John Matthias

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