Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heartTranslator: Mary E. Byrne; Versifier: Eleanor H. Hull; Author (attr.): Dallan Forgaill
Published in 107 hymnals
Printable scores: PDF, SibeliusAudio files: MIDI, Recording
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 great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.
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: Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #859
|First Line:||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart|
|Title:||Be Thou My Vision|
|Translator:||Mary E. Byrne|
|Versifier:||Eleanor H. Hull|
|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)
According to mythology, when St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century, King Logaire of Tara decreed that no one was allowed to light any fires until a pagan festival was begun by the lighting of a fire on Slane Hill. In a move of defiance against this pagan ritual, St. Patrick did light a fire, and, rather than execute him, the king was so impressed by his devotion that he let Patrick continue his missionary work. Three centuries later, a monk named Dallan Forgaill wrote the Irish poem, “Rop tú mo Baile” ("Be Thou my Vision), to remember and honor the faith of St. Patrick. Forgaill was martyred by pirates, but his poetry lived on as a part of the Irish monastic tradition for centuries until, in the early 20th century, Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the poem into English, and in 1912, Eleanor Hull versified the text into what is now a well-loved hymn and prayer that at every moment of our lives, God would be our vision above all else.
Eleanor Hull’s versification consists of five verses. Today, most hymnals include four of those verses: 1, 2, 4, and 5, leaving out verse 3: “Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight; be thou my dignity, though my delight, thou my soul’s shelter, and thou my high tower: raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power."
Other minor changes include altering some of the gender exclusive language to be inclusive, or changing “High king” in stanzas three and four to “Great God.”
There’s only one tune associated with this text, and that’s SLANE, aptly named for the location at which St. Patrick is said to have defied the orders of King Logaire. This tune comes from an Irish folk song of the same name, and was combined with the hymn text by Welsh composer David Evans in the 1927 edition of the Church Hymnary of the Church of Scotland.
This is a hymn that has been performed and recorded by too many artists to count, but that provides the worship leader with a lot of options for arranging. Many artists keep the traditional Irish feel to the tune, and sing it at a slower pace – just be careful it doesn’t drag. Here are some good arrangement options:
This hymn acts as a prayer to our God that He would be the first that we seek after, and continually refocus the direction of our life. This hymn can be sung throughout the liturgical year, and is a particularly powerful prayer of response to God’s call for our lives, whether heard in a sermon or a Scripture passage. It is most often used as a hymn of dedication, and fits well during a time of profession of faith or baptism. Consider using this verse from William Cowper’s hymn “O for a Closer Walk with God” as a prayer before or after: "The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be, Help me to tear it from thy throne, And worship only thee." Other songs of dedication could be well paired with this hymn, such as "I Surrender," "Take My Life," and "Take, O Take Me as I Am."
Laura de Jong, Hymnary.org
|Instances (38)||First Line||Text Title||Refrain First Line||Authors||Composers||Meter||Scripture||Tune Title||Tune Key||Incipit||Languages||Publication Date|
|50 Favorites: and July 2013 index of supplement to Evening Light Songs #p4||Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Dallan Forgaill; Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||Ephesians 1:17-23||SLANE||E Flat Major||1121D6556U1123222235||English||2013|
|Baptist Hymnal 1991 #60||Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||David Evans||10.10.10.10||2 Corinthians 3:5||SLANE||E Flat Major||1991|
|Baptist Hymnal 2008 #83||Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Eleanor H. Hull; Mary E. Byrne||Ken Barker; Gary Rhodes||10.10.10.10||SLANE||D Major||English||2008|
|Celebrating Grace Hymnal #71||Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||David Allen||Irregular||SLANE||E Flat Major||2010|
|Chalice Hymnal #595||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Visin||Eleanor H. Hull; Mary E. Byrne||Carlton R. Young||10.10.9.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1995|
|Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #643||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||2000|
|Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #465||Be thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart||Mary Elizabeth Byrne (188-1931); Eleanor Henrietta Hull (1860-1935)||David Evans (1874-1948)||10.10.10.10 irregular||1 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 6:10-17; John 3:16; Psalm 16:5-6; Psalm 63:6||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||2005|
|Common Praise (1998) #505||Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary Elizabeth Byrne, 1800-1931; Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935||Martin Shaw, 1875-1958||10.10.10.10||Genesis 15:1-18; Genesis 28:10-22; Exodus 33:12-23; Exodus 34:1-10; 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 16; Proverbs 2:1-15; Ezekiel 43:1-5; Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 1:39-57; Luke 24:1-12; John 3:22-36; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Ephesians 1:15-23; Revelation 21:1-7; Genesis 15:1-18; Genesis 28:10-22; Exodus 33:12-23; Exodus 34:1-10; 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 16; Proverbs 2:1-15; Ezekiel 43:1-5; Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 1:39-57; Luke 24:1-12; John 3:22-36; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Ephesians 1:15-23; Revelation 21:1-7||SLANE||E Flat Major||1998|
|Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New #71||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||2000|
|Complete Mission Praise #51||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||10.10.10.10||2000|
|Evangelical Lutheran Worship #793||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935; Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1991||10.10.10.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||2006|
|Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #450||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor Hull||David Evans||10.10.10.10||Psalm 17:15; Psalm 73:25; Psalm 139:17-18; Matthew 13:44; Matthew 19:21; John 14:20; John 15:4-5; John 17:21; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 3:1-6; Philippians 3:7; Hebrews 7:226; 1 John 4:13||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||2013|
|Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #488||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Mary Elizabeth Byrne, 188-1931; Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935||David Evans, 1874-1948||10.10.9.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1985|
|Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #343||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||10.10.10.10||1983|
|Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #545||Lord, be my vision, supreme in my heart||Eleanor H. Hull (1860-1935); Mary E. Byrne (1880-1931)||M. E. F. Shaw (1875-1958)||10.10.10.10||SLANE||E Major||1987|
|Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #56||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||10.10.10.10||1996|
|Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #859||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1931; Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935||Jack Schrader, b. 1942||10.10.10.10||Joel 2:28; Proverbs 4:20-27; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:1-17; Colossians 3:23-24||SLANE||E Flat Major||2013|
|Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #339||Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||David Evans||10.10.9.10||Psalm 73:25; Philippians 3:7||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1990|
|Rejoice Hymns #143||Be Thou my Vision||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1931; Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935||Shelly Hamilton||10.10.10.10||Psalm 119:18||SLANE||E flat||English||2011|
|Rejoice in the Lord #67||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Eleanor Hull; Mary Byrne||David Evans||10.10.9.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1985|
|Renew! #151||Be thou my Vision||Be Thou My Vision||Eleanor Hall; Mary Byrne||Jack Schrader||[Be Thou my Vision]||E Flat Major||English||1995|
|Sing Glory: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for a New Century #669||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||10.10.10.10||1999|
|Sing Joyfully #400||Be Thou my Vision||Be Thou My Vision||Mary Byrne; Eleanor Hull||Jack Schrader||[Be Thou my Vision]||E Flat Major||English||1989|
|Sing With Me #161||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||Greg Scheer||[Be Thou my vision]||E Flat Major||English||2006|
|The Book of Hymns (A fresh anthology of favourite hymns) #31||Be Thou my vision, O God of my heart||2006|
|The Celebration Hymnal: songs and hymns for worship #562||Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||David Allen||10.10.10.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1997|
|The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #412||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935; Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1931||Carlton R. Young, 1926-||10.10.9.10||Matthew 17:1-9; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Philippians 3:12-14; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 3:11||SLANE||E Flat Major||1996|
|The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #382||Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||David Allen||10.10.10.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||1986|
|The New Century Hymnal #451||Be now my vision, O God of my heart||Be Now My Vision||Eleanor H. Hull; Mary E. Byrne||David Evans||10.10.9.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||1995|
|The United Methodist Hymnal #451||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||Carlton R. Young||10.10.9.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1989|
|The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #319||[Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart]||Eleanor H. Hull; Mary E. Byrne||Carlton R. Young||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1991|
|The Worshiping Church #532||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||Donald P. Hustad||10.10.10.10||Philippians 3:7; Numbers 18:20; Joel 2:28; Matthew 17:8||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1990|
|Together in Song: Australian Hymn Book II #547||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||10.10.10.10||1999|
|Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #642||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne; Eleanor H. Hull||David Evans||10.10.10.10||Philippians 3:7; Colossians 3:1-5||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1990|
|Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #642||Be thou my vision, O joy of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Eleanor H. Hull; Mary Elizabeth Byrne||10.10.10.10||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1996|
|With One Voice #776||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1931; Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935||10.10.9.10||John 9; Matthew 6:19-21; Psalm 61:1-4||SLANE||E Flat Major||English||1995|
|Worship and Rejoice #502||Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart||Be Thou My Vision||Eleanor H. Hull, 1860-1935; Mary E. Byrne, 1880-1931||Jack Schrader, 1942-||10.10.10.10||Philippians 3:7; Acts 2:17; Matthew 17:8; Joel 2:28; Numbers 18:20||SLANE||E Flat Major||2001|
|Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #154||*Be thou our vision, O Love of our heart||Slane||1996|