I do not know the first time I heard the inspiring hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” It was probably in my grandmother’s small Methodist church. Sunday after Sunday, my love for music was nurtured. Hymns wooed me closer to my beloved Lord and Master. Lyrics permanently embedded in my memory still stir me today.
Little is known about this incredible hymn. It was birth in Ireland around 433 A.D. from the Irish folk tune “Slane.” It is on Slane Hill that St. Patrick defied High King Logaire’s royal edict and lit candles on Easter Eve. Whether impressed by his passionate defiance or because of it, Logaire allowed Patrick to continue his missionary work. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Alone in my quiet time often I sing this hymn. I have several CD versions I enjoy. No matter how it is arranged it always calls me to reevaluate my commitment to Christ. What a precious gift from an unknown composer!
I seriously doubt if its writer ever imagined their humble offering would become such a famous thread woven into the fabric of Christendom. How could they have dreamed of the impact their hymn would have? Only the Father knows how many it has inspired, encouraged, motivated and guided over the centuries.
But isn’t that they way all greatness comes to us – humbly? A vision passionately pursued in excellence, often times in quiet obscurity and expressed through loving service always produces immeasurable results. Keeping focused on the eternal is what gives the motivation to press on when obstacles confront. What a refreshing cup of cool water the Father bestows when gifted musicians and writers produce works to fan the flames of faith and figuratively wipe a weary fevered brow!
What an honor it would be to one day learn that my feeble attempts at writing have offered someone else hope on their journey? They encouraged someone, on the verge of defeat, to keep racing toward their vision.
And one day, I hope I can thank a writer. To tell them in my humble and inadequate expression my gratitude how much their words meant to me.
If you have never read the lyrics, sang the hymn or listened, go online and do so now. Allow the timeless inspiration of this ageless hymn to caress your weary soul and find yourself energized to accomplish the task and fulfill the vision God has given you!
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 Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
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 Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Words: Attributed to Dallan Forgaill, 8th Century (Rob tu mo bhoile, a Comdi cride); translated from ancient Irish to English by Mary E. Byrne, in “Eriú,” Journal of the School of Irish Learning, 1905, and versed by Eleanor H. Hull, 1912, alt.
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