Be Thou My Vision Piano Sheet Music
“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Not 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, 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 Vision is one of the oldest and most beloved hymns of the Christian faith. Over time, it has been rewritten and modernized several times, but is still widely sung in congregational worship. In recent years, the song has seen a resurgence of popularity, especially among Christian denominations practicing the informal style of worship known as “new churches” or “house churches.” Its words bring a message of peace and comfort, while the history of its melody inspires religious fervor and dedication.
History of the Hymn
The original lyrics of Be Thou My Vision are attributed to the prolific Irish poet, Dallan Forgaill (530-598) who’s passion for writing poetry eventually caused him to become blind. Monks used the text, written in Old Irish, in their monastic traditions, but the song wasn’t sung by congregations until Mary Byrne translated it into English in 1905. In 1912, Elizabeth Hull divided the text into verses, developing the version still most frequently sung today.
The hymn’s tune is an ancient one, probably written in the 8th century. “Slane,” the original title of the tune refers to a significant religious event that took place on Slane Hill around 433 A.D. The story goes that the ruling pagan king, King Logaire of Tara, decreed that no one could light a fire until he lit the first fire of the spring pagan celebration.
St. Patrick, a Christian missionary, defied King Logaire’s decree and lit a bright fire on Slane Hill, probably as a metaphor for the Biblical instruction to “set thy light on a hill.” King Logaire could have put St. Patrick to death but was so impressed by his courage that he pardoned Patrick and allowed him to continue his missionary work. St. Patrick converted over 100,000 people in Ireland and established 2,000 churches during his lifetime.
The song remained a traditional Irish folk tune for hundreds of years, until David Evans attached it to the text of Be Thou My Vision in 1927 in the Church of Scotland’s Church Hymnary. Today, this Christian hymn has been translated into modern Irish and Scottish versions, as well as German, Swedish, French, Welsh, Norwegian, Spanish and Ukrainian versions. The traditional music is played in D major. The hymn is commonly written for piano, organ or guitar accompaniment.