I WOULD BE TRUE
Howard A. Walter, 1883–1918
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws. (Psalm 119:30)
The yearning to achieve a trustworthy, strong, brave yet humble character is an unusual goal for a young person, especially in today’s self-seeking and materialistic society. The text for “I Would Be True,” however, was written by a young man in his early twenties in a poem that he titled “My Creed.”
After graduating with honors from Princeton University in 1905, Howard Arnold Walter spent a year teaching the English language in Japan. While there he sent a copy of his “creed” to his mother back home in Connecticut. Mrs. Walter sent the poem to Harper’s Magazine, where it appeared in the May, 1907 issue.
Returning to the United States, Howard Walter entered Hartford Seminary and upon graduation served as an assistant minister at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. One day he showed his poem to an itinerant Methodist lay preacher, Joseph Peek. Although Peek had no technical knowledge of music, he immediately whistled a tune suited to Walter’s words.
Several years later Howard Walter left for India to teach and minister to Mohammedan students. In 1918, a severe influenza epidemic there caused the death of this devoted young man. His credo lives on, however, in the numerous lives of those who have since sung this hymn and realized anew that God is more interested in what we are as a person than even what we may do for Him. In an environment today that can easily corrupt even the purest of minds, how important it is that we seek God’s daily help to live a life that is true.
I would be true, for there are those who trust me; I would be pure, for there are those who care. I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless; I would be giving, and forget the gift. I would be humble, for I know my weakness; I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.
I would be prayerful thru each busy moment; I would be constantly in touch with God, I would be tuned to hear His slightest whisper; I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.
For Today: Psalm 51:2, 10; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 4:8
Make this credo your personal goal. Above all, be “in touch with God” and “tuned to his slightest whisper.” Be a Christian who is known for his integrity. Carry this portion of the hymn with you as you go—