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Our family has really been enjoying the DVD Pilgrim, a modern musical adaption of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress put on by the high schoolers at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD in the Spring of 2009.

The lead character is Christian/Pilgrim, played by Brett Jansen--who happens to be a dead-ringer for Michael Cera. Jansen is surprisingly, remarkably good. I hope the Lord continues to cultivate his significant gift.

One of the things I love about this DVD is the way it’s instructing our kids on multiple levels: the centrality of the cross, the sufficiency of the Word, the power of temptation, the beauty of humility and gratitude, the guidance and protection of God, the nature of true forgiveness, the importance of true friendship. It’s all done with excellence.

Here’s an example of the dialogue:

Christian: I'm a mess. I need get myself cleaned up before I get there [to the cross].

Goodwill: You can't. Oh, lots of pilgrims put off going to the cross so they can clean themselves up first, but you can't do that on your own. The King is the only one who can make you clean. He loves you, despite your dirt.

Christian: I guess it's good to know He loves me ...(shrugs) ... makes me feel better about myself.

Goodwill: Oh, laddie! He doesn't love ye to make you feel better about yerself. He loves ye because that's WHO HE IS. He died for ye to purchase ye back from the Prince of Destruction. He plans ta do a work in ye, Pilgrim, ta conform ye to His lovin' image. And He wants to make sure ye git home safely.

Christian: Home?! NO! I want to go to the Celestial City.

Goodwill: Once you git to the cross, the Celestial City becomes yer new home.

Christian: Oh, right. That's why I'm here. That's why I made my decision.

Goodwill: Your decision.

Christian: Yeah, you know, to come down this road. I'm glad I'm finally doing it.

Goodwill: (chuckling) Ah, lad, ye think yer desire to walk this road began with you? No, Laddie. It began with the King. He put that desire in ye. He started it! On yer own, ye wouldn't have come this way. And I'll tell ye somethin' more. It's a blessed promise from that book [the Bible]. Since this wasn't your idea but His, the same One who started His good work in ye will carry it through. Right to the finish.

And here are the lyrics from a key song:

These Are the Words

© Copyright 2009 John David Maresco and Danny Mays

As soon as you open up the first page
You’ll see that it’s more than history
People are so up and down, and misplay
And all of us have wandered to our own ways

As soon as you turn to the next page
You’ll be overwhelmed by the blood stains
Sickness needing more than human remedies
Because we’ve committed more than simple felonies

These are the words that cannot stay on the page
These are the words that cannot be erased

Now the curtain parts and the lights fade
And the Son of Man takes center stage
And nothing and no one can get in his way
When God so loves the world he gives his Son away

These are the words that cannot stay on the page
These are the words that cannot be erased

As soon as you come to the last page
You’ll see that it wasn’t more or less than grace
So son hold out your soul if you have lost your voice
And open up your eyes and see your king rejoice

These are the words that cannot stay on the page
These are the words that cannot be erased

Here’s an audio file from the musical. It hasn’t been professionally mixed, so it’s spotty in a few places, but it will give you an idea of the tune:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

And here’s a trailer for the DVD:

I’d encourage parents and youth groups to consider getting a copy of this DVD.

And those in local Christian theater might want to look at the possibility of securing a performance license, available beginning in July 2010. More information here.

Performance materials will include:

  • Reproducible script (view sample)
  • Piano and vocal score
  • Chord charts
  • Music CD with full vocals
  • Accompaniment CD/Backing Track available for an additional $50
  • Original Performance DVD

Again, I give the whole thing a high recommendation!

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7 thoughts on “Pilgrim: Modern Musical Adaption of Pilgrim’s Progress

  1. Jason Woelm says:

    I’m a student pastor, and when Sovereign Grace had this DVD on sale back in February, I snagged it up for my youth. WOW–that was a good decision! Our youth are watching it now, and they are loving it! It’s sparking great conversation about all of the things JT mentioned–and more! Some of them are now wanting to pick up the book; anything I can do to get them reading some Christian classics is definitely a plus.

    Again, to echo JT, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (and now you’ve heard from a student pastor.)

    1. Phil B. says:

      @Jason, How long is the DVD? Does it have natural breaks where you can stop it in order to show it do a student group over several weeks? How old is your student group? Ours is young (middle schoolers)– and small (4-5).

      1. Jason Woelm says:

        @Phil B.,

        The DVD is two hours long. It doesn’t really have any natural breaks where you know you can stop it. I tied my viewings into 1/2 hour sections (4 in all). My students are from the 7th-12th grades.

        The video is geared towards junior and senior highers, with the issues Christian faces being highly tailored to that age group. However, I think that middle school to the primary age kids would be able to understand what is going on.

        1. Phil B. says:


    2. Dave Mays says:

      The DVD is divided into 18 scenes, each of which can be accessed from the DVD menu.

  2. Bob says:

    My family loved it too. After Christian lost his burden at the cross, my 4 year old son asked with urgency, “Dad, when are we going to the cross?”

  3. Annie says:

    So great to see this creativity and thanks for passing it along.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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