Be Thou My Vision – A Hymn Story

In choosing songs for my latest album, “The Shepherd Cannot Run”, I tried to pick songs relative to the spirit of Father Rother’s life, as well as, those hymns that have a rich history in longevity and timeless appeal.  When I looked at the hymn, Be Thou My Vision, the words spoke to me.  I thought they were so beautiful!  I’ve attached a written history about the song you may find interesting!

From: “Center for Church Music Songs and Hymns

Be Thou My Vision Hymn Story:

With its heartfelt poetry and moving melody, “Be Thou My Vision” beautifully expresses the desires of the Christian heart. Though its popularity rose only in the past fifty years or so, the hymn actually has a rich history dating back to the eighth century.

Between the years of 400 and 700 AD the Irish people lived out a passionate faith in Christ. Ireland took up the missionary endeavor with excitement, and the country became known for its all-absorbing efforts to share Christianity throughout the world. Irish missionaries were found from Scotland to Switzerland, spreading the Good News wherever they went.

Some scholars believe that the words to the hymn are the product of a man known simply as St. Patrick. Patrick was born in A.D. 373 along the banks of the River Clyde in what is now called Scotland. When he was 16 he was kidnapped by pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. There he gave his life to Jesus Christ. He eventually escaped, but he never forgot this experience and when he was about 30 he returned to his former captors with only one possession: the Latin Bible. History tells us that St. Patrick was the man most responsible for the Good News of Christ coming to Ireland. As a result of his preaching, over 200 churches were established and 100,000 converts were baptized.

“Be Thou My Vision” undoubtedly comes from this spiritually rich period. Its prominent theme encourages single-hearted focus and devotion to Christ. In the hymn lyrics, the poet expresses his adoration of God through the many titles he gives him: Vision, Wisdom, Word, Great Father, Power, Inheritance, High King of heaven, Treasure, bright heaven’s Sun, Ruler of all.

Today, we continue to sing the words of this hymn, echoing the poet’s response to God’s many titles. “Thou my best thought, Thy presence my light.”

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