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All the past we leave behind

All the past we leave behind. Walt Whitman* (1819-1892). This hymn is made up of lines from Whitman’s poem ‘Pioneers, O Pioneers!’, from Leaves of Grass (1882 edition). The first instance that I have found of its use in a hymnbook was in 1925, when Percy Dearmer* included it in SofP. He commissioned Martin Shaw* to write a tune for the unusual metre, which he called PIONEERS. Verses 4-6 of Whitman’s poem are the basis of verse 1 of the hymn: All the past we leave behind: We take up the task eternal, And the burden, and the lesson, Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, So we go the unknown ways, Pioneers! O Pioneers! Verse 2 concerns self-denial, bravery, and unity, from...

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