Be Thou my vision is an ancient Irish poem (c. 8th century A.D.), translated into English prose by Mary Byrne. The poem was subsequently versified by Eleanor Hull when it appeared in her collection, Poem-book of the Gael (1912).
The tune, SLANE, is from Patrick W. Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). Harmonization was done by David Evans when the text was set for its first hymnic appearance in the revised Church Hymnary (Edinburgh, 1927).
Companion to the Baptist Hymnal reports that “Slane is a hill some ten miles from Tara in County Meath where Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick (ca. 389-461), lit the paschal fire on Easter eve, challenging King Loegaire.”
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, I Thy true son;
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 Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.