Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

"Be Thou My Vision" is a traditional Christian hymn, which can be traced to Ireland but is now sung in English-speaking churches around the world.

The text and its history

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.

Dal­lan For­gaill (translated from the Irish by
Ma­ry E. Byrne, Versified by El­ea­nor H. Hull)

The text ("Rop tú mo baile") is often attributed to Dallan Forgaill in the 8th century; in any case, this text had been a part of Irish monastic tradition for centuries before the hymn itself was written. It was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary E. Byrne in “Eriú," "Journal of the School of Irish Learning", in 1905. The English text was first versified by Eleanor H. Hull in 1912"The New Methodist Hymn Book illustrated", John Telford (Epworth Press, London, 1934): This old Irish poem was translated by Mary E. Byrne M.A. of the University of Ireland, an Irish Research worker to the Board of Intermediate Education. It was versified by Miss Eleanor Henrietta Hull, founder of the Irish Text Society, its secretary in 1899 and sometimes President of the Irish Literary Society of Londona and author of books on Ireland.] , and this version of the lyrics is the most common. However, slight variations of these lyrics are sometimes seen. The first verse of Hull's version follows:

: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.

Thus, the English translation of the hymn itself is fairly recent and the Elizabethan vocabulary and structure is somewhat an anachronism. "Be Thou My Vision" has become the quintessential Irish hymn in English-speaking churches and is often sung around St. Patrick's Day. Despite its traditional nature and the seemingly archaic quality of the text, "Be Thou My Vision" has become a popular song performed and composed by Ginny Owens. Van Morrison also performs this song on his album Hymns to the Silence, and Pedro the Lion on The Only Reason I Feel Secure.


The music is the Irish folk song, "Slane", which is about Slane Hill where in 433 A.D. St. Patrick defied the pagan High King Lóe­gaire of Ta­ra by lighting candles on Easter Eve. Besides this general connection to Christianity, the folk song has little prior connection to the text. Other folk songs have been written to this tune such as "Lakes of Champlain"

Other present-day uses

The hymn is the anthem of Delbarton School, a Benedictine school in Northern New Jersey, and can often be heard in the mornings ringing from the bell tower or at the conclusion of any of the school's Masses. It is also the school song of St Mary's Diocesan School, an Anglican girls boarding school in New Zealand. The Christian band Jars of Clay did a version of the song. Desiring God's radio ministry uses an instrumental version of the song as its theme song. Ginny Owens' version of the song was also used in the trailer for the 2008 film, Saw V

A number of variants can be found in various hymnals, with recent editions removing the archaic "man", meaning "humanity", for reasons of political correctness. Some critics have asserted that this is merely a mechanism for the establishment of new copyrights in order to achieve vendor lock-in with churches.

Other languages

A Dutch translation "Wees mijn verlangen" was entered into the Opwekking bundle (1996).

A Norwegian 1978 translation, "Deg å få skode", was entered into the Norwegian psalm book in 1985.

A Spanish translation by Federico J. Pagura is titled, "Oh Dios, sé mi visión" and is found in "Mil Voces Para Celebrar: Himnario Metodista" (1996).

A Swedish translation "Gå inte förbi" was recorded by Sissel Kyrkjebø and Peter Jöback i 2003, and became a hit single.



External links

* [ Rop tú mo baile] (Original Irish Version)
* [ Article]
* [ Lyrics, History and MIDI on]
* [ Utah Baroque Ensemble Version with Lyrics at]

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