Be Thou My Vision is also a breastplate song, so I repeat my note from The Lorica:
My (Peterwill) inspiration for re-publishing these two breastplate works, The Lorica and Be Thou My Vision, is Anne Hamilton. She is a prolific author and Irish descendant born, raised and living in Australia. She published these two prayer/songs in her wonderful book God’s Poetry. She says this of them in her book:
‘Breastplate songs such as, Be Thou My Vision and The Deer’s Cry may seem odd forms of protection but they do have Scriptural warrant. Buried deep in the mathematical structure of Ephesians 6 – and as a former teacher of mathematics, this is something that interests me greatly – there are clues that the armour of God has seven pieces. Only six are evident: the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the sword of the Spirit. The seventh is clearly songs of praise.’
‘Be Thou My Vision’ was written in the 8th century and is attributed to: Dallán Forgaill, who was a monk who was the chief of the bards at the time of the convocation of Drum Ceatt. Learn more about this convocation under the Past Poet Reflection “St Columcille (Columba).
YouTube recording is by Andy Rogers, who Anne tells us in her book lives a short distance away from Drum Ceatt in Northern Ireland.
Anne says this in her book God’s Poetry:
‘Forgaill’s nickname ‘Dallán’, little blind one, might account for the opening line ‘Be Thou My Vision’ – a call to God to be the Light of the World to him. However, the end of the second and beginning of the third verse (particularly in Eleanor Hull’s rendition) are evocative of covenant: oneness, the exchange of swords, transferral of dignity, God as refuge or shelter and God as inheritance. Heart of my own heart: what a perfect way to express covenant.
Although this poem is said to have been written in memory of St Patrick, what it expresses is both a name covenant (for Dallán, blind, who calls on God to be his vision) and a blood covenant (in the oneness and the pieces of armour.) He was probably also the one to let Columba of Iona know about the prospect that all the songs of Ireland were about to be stilled. So, if there’s anything we have to be grateful to St Columcille for, the preservation of this beautiful lorica – breastplate song – must surely rate amongst the highest.’
BE THOU MY VISION
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 armour, my 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.
Author – attributed to: Dallán Forgaill in the 8th century
Translator – Mary E. Byrne 1905
Versified by – Eleanor H. Hull 1912
Audio and YouTube Recording: Andy Rogers: Audio available at http://www.bethoumyvision.co.uk/ Website: http://www.andyrogersmusic.com/