Yesterday, one of the songs we sang was an oldie but goodie, To Be a Pilgrim, written by John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while serving a jail term for preaching without a license. We sang the old fashioned version:
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.
(Actually, I may have drifted off because I don’t remember singing the part about the hobgoblins or foul fiends . . . or maybe we sang a slightly more updated version . . .)
Yesterday’s reading in The Lectionary had a great prayer, which also included the word “pilgrim:
Almighty God, thou didst lead thy pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud; grant that the ministers of thy church, following the example of blessed Enmegahbowh, may stand before thy holy people, leading them with fiery zeal and gentle humility. This we ask through Jesus, the Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
And it had this wonderful story of an American Saint, Enmegahbowh – A saint from the original inhabitants of our country:
PRIEST AND MISSIONARY (12 JUNE 1902)
[James Kiefer has no bio for Enmegahbowh. Below is a biography from A Pioneer History of Becker County Minnesota by Alvin H. Wilcox (1907). Enmegabowh was the first Indian ordained in the Episcopal Church.]
In 1851, the Rev. Dr. Breck, a great missionary, whose name must be known to every reader of the “Soldier,” ["Christian Soldier"] began a mission at Leech Lake, among the Ojibwa Indians of Minnesota. This mission, from various circumstances, had only a partial success, and in the winter of 1855-56 troubles with the government agents roused the Indians to such madness that Dr. Breck was forced to leave, and the mission buildings were burned.
Two years later the Rev. Mr. Peake went to Crow Wing to establish another mission, and young Indian deacon, John Johnson, his Indian name Enmegahbowh, came to assist him. This man had beeen a catechumen under Dr. Breck, and had been baptized by him. He must have been born to some position in his tribe, as he had been set apart for a “Medicine Man” in youth, and his Indian name, Enmegahbowh, meant “The man who stands by his people,” a significant name, which in time proved to be a true one.
In 1861 Mr. Peake resigned the mission into the hands of Enmegahbowh. Crow Wing was then a settlement of very bad repute on the frontier. In 1862, the year of the Sioux outbreak, Hole-in-the-day, a leading Ojibwa chief, a bad man, full of craft and cunning, collected five hundred warriors, and prepared for a general massacre of the white people. Enmegahbowh, having prevented, by his influence, some other bands from joining these, was made a prisoner, but succeeded in escaping, and, through the midst of great perils, made his way to Fort Ripley, and by his timely information, such measures were taken that bloodshed and a more fearful massacre than that of the Sioux were prevented.
For a few years the mission work seemed at a stand still. From Canada Enmegahbowh received earnest invitations to go where comfort and hopeful work awaited him, but Bishop Whipple encouraged him, standing in the forefront for an unpopular cause and a hated people, and Enmegahbowh would prove the fitness of his name — he would not desert his people.
At last the government made new arrangements, and seven hundred Ojibwa were moved to what is called the White Earth Reservation, a tract thirty-six miles square in northern Minnesota. Of these seven hundred about one hundred and fifty were French half-breeds, or Roman Catholics. Amongst the remainder Enmegahbowh labored earnestly, the government now aiding in the work by encouraging the Indians in civilized ways. A steam sawmill was built at White Earth Lake, where Indians were taught to run the machinery, and from which lumber was furnished for building purposes. Eastern churchmen assisted the mission, and a church and parsonage were built.
At the time of the consecration of the church in August, 1872, quite a party of the clergy and laity, through the kindness of Bishop Whipple, were enabled to visit White Earth.
The consecration was on Thursday. Friday morning, the chiefs signified to the bishop their wish to meet with him in a council, which was therefore held, that afternoon, on the hillside in front of the church. It was a picturesque scene — the lovely landscape, the sunlight glancing through the tall oak trees on the bishop and Enmegahbowh, who sat in the centre, the chiefs and five or six clergymen grouped around. Behind the bishop three chairs were placed for the ladies of the party — the first time, I think, that ladies were ever admitted to an Indian council.
The chiefs spoke in turn, as they had themselves arranged, and were interpreted by Enmegahbowh. — Christian Soldier.
The Rev. John Johnson was born in Canada and died at White Earth on the 12th of June, 1902, at the age of 95 years.
God had someone in mind who was already set aside by his people to serve him, and he had the most wonderful name for a priest – The one who stands by his people. How cool is that? His heart was ready, when he heard the words, and he served mightily.