Be Thou My Vision is a lovely old Irish hymn. It was written in the 8th century and is commonly attributed to a man by the name of Dallan Forgaill. It is sung to the music of an Irish folk song called Slane. This was often done in the early centuries where old folk songs were taken and turned into Christian songs with Christian words.
Be Thou My Vision is my favorite hymn. Perhaps it is because I have some Irish blood in me! Anyway, I love to think of the Irish Christians of old singing this hymn back in forth to each other with loud, joyful voices! It is often helpful to try to imagine ourselves in the place of the person who wrote the hymn we are trying to learn. It helps the hymn become our own.
An interesting note about this song is that it has five stanzas, but usually only four are sung. I have included all five here, because the words all have such a beautiful meaning to them.
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 Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou my 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 Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.