Hymn #492: I Would Be True

Howard Arnold Walter (1883-1918) sent this poem in a letter to his mother while he was teaching English at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan in 1906. She submitted it to Harper’s Magazine, which published it the following year. Walter titled his original poem “My Creed.”

Howard A. Walter was born in New Britain, Connecticut, on August 19, 1883. A Congregational minister, he served in Hartford before volunteering with the YMCA for work in India and Ceylon. Walter took a position at a college in Lahore even though he knew that he had a heart condition. He died suddenly in 1918.

Joseph Yates Peek (1843-1911) became acquainted with Howard Walker one summer while the young minister was substituting at Peek’s church in Brooklyn, New York. Although Peek was not a trained musician, he felt that Walter’s poem would be an inspiring hymn and composed this melody, now known as PEEK. As organist harmonized it from Peek’s whistled version.  

Joseph Y. Peek, born in Schenectady, New York, on February 28, 1843, was a florist for over twenty years. He left this work to become a lay preacher in the Methodist-Episcopal Church. Peek’s dream of being ordained was realized only two months before his death, on March 17, 1911, in Brooklyn, New York.