A Guide to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

Notes and Commentary

by Ken Puls

on John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

Part Two

The King Shall Rejoice

19. Christiana's Song

Then Christiana began to talk of their journey, and to inquire after the way. So he fed them, and washed their feet; and set them in the way of his steps, according as he had dealt with her husband before.

So I saw in my dream that they walked on in their way, and had the weather very comfortable to them.

Then Christiana began to sing, saying:

“Blest be the day that I began
A pilgrim for to be;
And blessed also be that man
That thereto moved me.

‘Tis true, ‘twas long ere I began
To seek to live forever:
But now I run fast as I can;
‘Tis better late, than never.

Our tears to joy, our fears to faith,
Are turned, as we see:
Thus our beginning (as one saith)
Shows what our end will be.”


Notes and Commentary

As Christiana sets out again with her children and Mercy on their journey to the Celestial City, Christiana’s heart is full of joy. At the Gate, they have been well fed, refreshed, and shown the right path to take. Now they walk in favorable weather.

Christiana expresses her joy with singing. Music is a fitting way to declare our delight in God and make known His manifest kindnesses.

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
(Psalm 9:1–2)

Christiana begins her song with praise for the day she began her pilgrimage. She confesses in the second stanza that she is late getting started. She at first rejected the gospel and would not leave her comforts in the City of Destruction. But now she runs as fast as she can.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it (1 Corinthians 9:24).

She also blesses “that man” that moved her to begin her journey to the Celestial City. She may be thinking here of Christian, her husband. It was Christian who first warned her of the danger of Destruction. It was Christian who plead with her and prayed for her. And it was Christian whose heart broke when she refused to go with him and chose to stay behind. Later in the allegory, after singing another song in the House of the Interpreter, Christiana explains how she was finally moved to be a pilgrim.

When the song and music was ended, the Interpreter asked Christiana what it was that at first did move her to betake herself to a Pilgrim’s life. Christiana answered, First, the loss of my husband came into my mind, at which I was heartily grieved; but all that was but natural affection. Then, after that, came the troubles and pilgrimage of my husband into my mind, and also how like a churl I had carried it to him as to that. So guilt took hold of my mind, and would have drawn me into the pond.

Thoughts of her husband weighed upon Christiana with grief and guilt almost to the point of flooding her soul. But she continues,

But that opportunely I had a dream of the well-being of my husband, and a letter sent me by the King of that country where my husband dwells, to come to Him. The dream and the letter together so wrought upon my mind, that they forced me to this way.

Though it was Christian who first encouraged Christiana to flee from Destruction, ultimately it was gracious invitation of the King that moved her to be a pilgrim. It was the King who sent Secret with a letter to visit her. It was the King who assured her that Christian had safely come to the Celestial City. And it was the King who effectually called her to come and dwell in His presence in His City.

In the last stanza Christiana sings:

Our tears to joy, our fears to faith,
Are turned, as we see:

In Christ, God turns our sorrows into rejoicing.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
(Psalm 30:11–12)

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness;
Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:10 and 51:11)

Christiana’s past is beset with sadness and regrets. She resisted so long and missed out on much happiness. But the good news of the gospel points us to One who overcomes our past. Christ rescues us from the captivity and condemnation of sin and turns “our tears to joy, our fears to faith.” And so we sing as the ransomed returning to Zion with rejoicing.

When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad.
Bring back our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
(Psalm 126:1–6)

Christiana’s song concludes:

Thus our beginning (as one saith)
Shows what our end will be.”

She quotes a well-known saying: “The beginning prophesies the end” (in The Salt-Cellars: A Collection of Proverbs and Quaint Sayings by C. H. Spurgeon). We make our beginnings with an expected end in mind. We plant a crop in expectation of a harvest. We begin a race, looking toward the finish line, hoping we will win. And we begin a journey intent on arriving at our destination.

Christiana is walking in hope with the end in view. She is confident that the One who summoned her will guide her along the Way—from the Wicket Gate all the way to the gates of the Celestial City. God is the One who declares “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). “In the beginning” He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). And He is the One “who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8). Jesus Himself testifies: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:13).

We can press on with joy and singing in our journey, knowing that He will keep us to the end.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good workin you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Continue reading 20. The Devil's Garden

Return to 18. The Power of the Dog


The text for The Pilgrim's Progress
and images used are public domain
Notes and Commentary for Part II ©2014, 2021–2022 Ken Puls

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from
the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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