translated by Mary E. Byrne
versified by Eleanor H. Hull
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought 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;
Thou ever with me, and I with Thee, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;
Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,
Raise me to heaven, great Pow’r of my pow’r.
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 heav’n’s Sun,
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
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Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931) was born in Ireland. She translated this 8th-Century Gaelic poem in 1905 while working as a researcher and writer for the Board of Intermediate Education in Dublin. Years later, Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and literature, put Ms. Byrne’s prose translation into verse form and included it in her book of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael. The melody is a traditional Irish tune.
Are you as thankful as I am for the work that these women did to make this beautiful hymn accessible to us? It has also been translated into other languages as well as English. The truths taught about our great God in these few lines are timeless.
The older I get, the more I realize the Christ is all. He literally fills more and more of my vision, just as the songwriter spoke of. This is not something that happens automatically, but is a consequence of daily walking with Him, getting to know Him, letting Him change me and conform me into His image. Every morning I must die to self so that I may live for Him. I’m not talking about some strange ritual or morbid habit, but just a denying of my own stubborn will. Am I always successful? No. But God is always forgiving. When I fall, He picks me up, brushes the dirt off my knees, and helps me start again.
Christ is all. He is sufficient for everything, for every need in every situation. Period.
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
Information from hymnary.org
Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1990. p. 90.
Photo taken at Narrows Falls, Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, 2013