My Favorite Hymn: Be Thou My Vision
Updated: May 3
Today I would like to share with you all the history of my favorite hymn: “Be Thou My Vision”.
The original poem for “Be Thou My Vision” was written in Old Irish. It is attributed to
Eochaid, an Irish nobleman who lived in the mid-6th century. Eochaid was also know as
The name Dallan means “little blind one”. As this name suggests, Eochaid was blind; he had no literal vision. In spite of this he became a great scholar and poet. In this particular poem, he expresses his desire for God to be his vision.
Eochaid’s poem was translated into English in the early 1900s by Mary Byrne. Several years later, Eleanor Hull versified Byrne’s translation. Not long afterwards, it was set to the Irish tune, “Slane”.
“Slane” was named after the hill on which St. Patrick lit the famous Easter fire in AD 433. King Logaire of Ireland had decreed that no fires be lit the evening before their pagan spring festival. The festival happened to fall on Easter that year. St. Patrick is reported to have lit a fire on Slane Hill in defiance of the pagan ways.
My favorite stanza of this hymn is the first:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
I want this prayer to characterize my life. I want God to be my focus, my life, my constant thought, and my light. When I make my Lord my life, I am living for the gospel’s sake.
Here is the complete hymn:
Be Thou My Vision
1. Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
2. Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word; I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord. Born of thy love, thy child may I be, thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.
3. Be thou my buckler, my sword for the fight. Be thou my dignity, thou my delight, thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tow’r. Raise thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
4.Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise; thou mine inheritance, now and always. Thou and thou only, first in my heart, Ruler of heaven, my treasure thou art.
5. High King of heaven, when vict’ry is won may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun! Heart of my heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
May we all make the Lord our vision.
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