Be Thou My Vision

When we set about designing a hymn rotation, we hoped every once in a while we could introduce you to some of the more meaningful Christian hymns that aren’t in our hymnbook. (Don’t worry. We have a free PDF and recording of the piano accompaniment for you here.)

This is one of my favorites: Be Thou My Vision. However, that’s the English translation. This hymn has existed, in some way, for 1200 years. The original text was in Irish… Old Irish. It is attributed to Dallán Forgaill, who is venerated as a Saint by our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends. Actually, his proper name is Dallán is actually a nickname, meaning “little blind one”; it is said he studied so intensely that he lost his eyesight. Shortly after becoming blind, he wrote a poem called “Rop tú mo Baile”. The text that was eventually translated into English, then versified into the hymn we know as: “Be Thou My Vision”.

I love that a blind man wrote the sentiment, “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart”.

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; Thy child may I be,
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 Heav’n’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

This may not be in our hymnbook, but it is well-loved by members of the Church. Here’s Nathan Pacheco singing it:

BYU Noteworthy has a most excellently fun and folksy rendition:

And, of COURSE, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir likes to sing it.

And finally, LDS guitarist (and violinist!) Camille Nelson performed it with former member of Celtic Woman, Alex Sharpe. If you like Irish, you might fall in love with this one.

Happy singing!


Jenna DiltsJenna Dilts is a mother of three pre-school-aged children. Last year she led a discussion of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles on the AO forum. You can find her blogging at To Work Wonders, where she is currently working through AO year 1 for herself.

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