Be Thou My Vision

Full Text

1 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.

2 Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true Word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my soul’s shelter, and thou my high tower;
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

3 Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou, mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

4 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.

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #450

Versifier: Mary E. Byrne

Mary Elizabeth Byrne, M.A. (1880-1931) was born in Ireland. She translated the Old Irish Hymn, "Bí Thusa 'mo Shúile," into English as "Be Thou My Vision" in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905. A lin­guist, Byrne received her education from the Do­min­ican Con­vent in Dublin, and the National University of Ireland, where she grad­u­at­ed in 1905. She received the Chancellor's Gold Medal at the Royal University of Ireland.She worked for the Board of In­ter­me­di­ate Ed­u­ca­tion, and helped com­pile the Ca­ta­log of the Royal Irish Academy. She al­so con­trib­ut­ed to the Old and Mid-Ir­ish Dic­tion­ary and Dictionary of the Irish Language, and wrote a trea­tise on Eng­land in the Ag… Go to person page >

Author (attr.): Dallan Forgaill

Saint Dallán Forgaill (ca. 530–598), also known as Dallán Forchella, Dallán of Cluain Dalláin, and born Eochaid Forchella, was an early Christian Irish poet, best known as the writer of the Amra Choluim Chille ("Eulogy of Saint Columba") and the early Irish poem "Rop tú mo baile," the basis of the modern English hymn "Be Thou My Vision." Dallán Forgaill's given name was Eochaid, and his mother was called Forchella. He was the son of Colla, a descendant of the legendary High King Colla Uais. His nickname, Dallán ("little blind one"), was earned after he lost his sight, reputedly as a result of studying intensively. He was born in Maigen (now Ballyconnell), at the eastern edge of the territory of the Masraige of Magh Slécht in… Go to person page >

Translator: Eleanor H. Hull

Eleanor Henrietta Hull (January 15, 1860-January 13, 1935) was a writer, journalist and scholar of Old Irish. She was born in England, of a County Down family. She was educated at Alexandra College, Dublin and was a student of Irish Studies. In 1899 she was co-founder of the Irish Texts Society for the publication of early manuscripts. She was honorary secretary for nearly thirty years. She was president of the Irish Literary Society. She died in Wimbledon, England on January 13, 1935, two days shy of her 75th birthday. Her published works include: The Cuchulain Saga in Irish Literature (1898) Pagan Ireland (Dublin, 1904 & 1923) Early Christian Ireland A Text Book of Irish Literature (2 volumes) (1906) T… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Title: Be Thou My Vision
Versifier: Mary E. Byrne
Translator: Eleanor H. Hull (1860-1935, alt.)
Author (attr.): Dallan Forgaill
Source: Ancient Irish; Irish, ca. 700
Place of Origin: Ireland
Liturgical Use: Prayer Songs
Article: Be Thou My Vision by Sally Ann Morris (from The Hymn)


"Be Thou My Vision" is thought to be first written by Dallan Forgaill under the title "Rop tu mo baile". While in her last year at the University of Ireland, Mary E. Byrne translated "Rop tu mo baile" from Old Irish to English. Finally, Eleanor H. Hull, a Gaelic enthusiast from England versified the hymn into what we know it as today. (contributed by Hymnary user Dan)



SLANE is an old Irish folk tune associated with the ballad 'With My Love Come on the Road" in Patrick W. Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). It became a hymn tune when it was arranged by David Evans (PHH 285) and set to the Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision" published in the Church Hymnary (1…

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