Be Thou My Vision

Through my travels this summer I have come to fall in love with a particular hymn–and those of you who know me really well know that I’m not all that big on hymns.  But Be Thou My Vision has come to mean so much to me, that my fiance and I plan to include it in some way during our wedding.  For today’s Monday Inspiration, I thought it would share with you the original poem, translated from the old Irish, that is the inspiration for the hymn we know today.


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 even in my sleep.
Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.
Be thou with me, be I with thee
Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.
Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.
Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.
Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.
Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.
Be thou every good to my body and soul.
Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.
Be thou solely chief love of my heart.
Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.
Till I am able to pass into thy hands,
My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love
Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.
I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.
Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.
For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.
Thy love in my soul and in my heart —
Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.
O King of the seven heavens grant me this —
Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.
With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,
May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.
Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.
O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,
O ruler of all, be thou my vision.


3 thoughts on “Be Thou My Vision

Add yours

  1. “Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
    Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.”

    I love the unabashedly anguished imagery used in this poem — you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get away with broadcasting lyrics like this on your average CCM radio station. If you don’t mind me asking, why aren’t you all that big on hymns?


    1. For a couple of reasons, I think. Growing up, my experience of hymns generally meant singing along with music played rather badly, sung by notoriously awful singers who were more impressed with their own voices, than the God the song was about. Plus it seemed that the words of many of theme were so archaic, they’d lost almost all meaning to those singing. The songs were defended because it was what the older generation had grown up with, so it made them feel comfortable, not because they brought the congregation closer to actually worshipping God. They seemed to be treated with a reverence that suggested that they were the songs that Jesus taught the disciples…but they’re not.

      On the other hand the more contemporary songs were done with more energy and passion. The worship leaders clearly liked doing them more, so they came out better. Further, the language actually made sense, and seemed to have something to do with the God I’d encountered. The Bible says “sing a new song” and I think that that is important so we are forced to renew our worship and keep putting the focus back on God, rather than doing

      In recent years, I’ve been more willing to reconsider hymns, because many of them are quite beautiful, and are often superiorly written music to some of the stuff being written now. Just the same, even when I look back at a hymn, I do tend to prefer new ways of arranging/playing/singing them. It helps me to rediscover what that other generation loved about them in the first place, I think.


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