Did you know that the words of the timeless hymn Be Thou My Vision are over one thousand years old? It is believed that the original Irish words were written in the sixth century by Saint Dallán Forgaill. In 1912, Eleanor M. Hull published the beloved English version and it was paired with the tune we know so well.
The tune was called ‘Slane’, named after a hill where it is said that St. Patrick, an early missionary to the Irish, courageously defied the Irish druid priests. The Irish king was so impressed with St. Patrick’s conviction and zeal that he pardoned St. Patrick and supported him in his fruitful ministry in Ireland.
Knowing a bit of the background to this hymn enables us to appreciate it better as we read, along with Christians from many past centuries, the triumphant words:
Be Thou My Vision
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.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, 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.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.