“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.” What a prayer, a mindset for believers to strive to adopt. A prayer for mental, emotional, and spiritual guidance, this humble request embodies what it means to align ourselves to our Savior in our daily walk with Him.
“Be Thou My Vision” has its roots in ancient Ireland and has a rich history that has been passed down through the centuries. The origins can be traced back to the 8th century when the text was written in Old Irish as a poem. The poem was later translated into English and set to music, which transformed it into the hymn that is widely known today. The hymn speaks of God as the source of guidance, comfort, and protection, and it expresses the belief that God should be the focus of one’s life.
The lyrics of “Be Thou My Vision” are attributed to Dallán Forgaill, an Irish poet who lived in the 6th century. The poem was written as a tribute to the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, and was meant to inspire people to follow the example of the saint and to live their lives with devotion to God. The poem was later adapted into a hymn, which was sung in Irish monasteries and in the homes of Irish families.
In 1905, “Be Thou My Vision” was translated into English by Mary Byrne and became popular in England and America. In Byrne’s translation, the first verse goes as follows: “Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart / None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens / Be thou my meditation by day and night / May it be thou that I behold ever in my sleep.” A few years later in 1912, Eleanor Hull translated it again to the version we are most familiar with. It does not appear that there is much autobiographical information available about these two translators.
The hymn’s message of devotion and trust in God resonated with people of all ages and backgrounds, and it became a staple in hymnals and worship services. There is a verse that some hymnals omit that would serve as the third verse when included: 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.”
In the 20th century, “Be Thou My Vision” continued to be widely sung and has been recorded by numerous artists and musicians. The hymn has been performed in many different styles, from traditional hymn arrangements to contemporary gospel versions. The hymn has also been used in various media, including film, television, and books, which has helped to increase its popularity and reach a wider audience in our current times.
Today, “Be Thou My Vision” remains one of the most popular and beloved hymns in the Christian tradition for a reason. The hymn’s timeless message of trust in God and devotion to His will continues to inspire and encourage people of all ages, and it remains a staple in worship services and hymnals around the world. Its enduring popularity and relevance serve as a testament to the timeless appeal of its message and to the power of faith and devotion in shaping the lives of people.
I am eternally smitten with the idea that Jesus is the Light of the World. This world can be so dark, getting darker by the day – so to know that we have a light to lead us through it all, my heart just can’t seem to get over it. And honestly, I’m not sure it really ever should, anyway. Instead, I want to find more ways by the day to find more ways to reflect the Lord’s light in every way that I am able. I had a teacher in high school share this analogy with me that has always stuck with me: when you look at a lightbulb, you don’t see the bulb itself, but rather just the light that is emanating from it. In that same way, when people see us living our everyday lives, if we are seeking to reflect the love of Christ, it shouldn’t really be us people are seeing at all.
I leave you this week with one of my favorite verses: “You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28). Whatever darkness you face in this life, may we always remember to turn to the Lord to illuminate it all and be our vision.
If you have a request or a hymn you would like to know more about, please feel free to call in a request or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!