Be Thou My Vision

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"Be Thou My Vision"
Published 8th century (trans. 1912)
Genre Hymn
Writer(s) unknown (trans. Eleanor Hull)
Language Old Irish
Scottish Gaelic

"Be Thou My Vision" (Old Irish: Rop tú mo baile or Rob tú mo bhoile) is a traditional hymn from Ireland. The most well known English version, with some minor variations, was translated by Eleanor Hull and published in 1912. In 1919, the lyrics were set to the tune of the Irish folk tune "Slane", to which the song is sung to this day, both in English and Irish. The song has often been attributed to the sixth-century Irish Christian poet Saint Dallan,[1] though some scholars cite an eighth-century date.[2]


The original Old Irish text, "Rop tú mo Baile" is often attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill in the 6th century.[1] The text had been a part of Irish monastic tradition for centuries before its setting to music.[3] There are two manuscripts, one at the National Library of Ireland, and a second at the Royal Irish Academy. Both manuscripts date from about the 10th or 11th century.

The prayer belongs to a type known as a lorica, a prayer for protection.[4]

It was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne, M.A., in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905. The English text was first versified by Eleanor Hull, in 1912, and is now the most common text used.[5]


Original Old Irish Text[edit]

The original texts of the now-called "Be Thou My Vision" are in Old Irish similar still in style to Modern Irish.

Rop tú mo baile, a Choimdiu cride:
ní ní nech aile acht Rí secht nime.
Rop tú mo scrútain i l-ló 's i n-aidche;
rop tú ad-chëar im chotlud caidche.
Rop tú mo labra, rop tú mo thuicsiu;
rop tussu dam-sa, rob misse duit-siu.
Rop tussu m'athair, rob mé do mac-su;
rop tussu lem-sa, rob misse lat-su.
Rop tú mo chathscíath, rop tú mo chlaideb;
rop tussu m'ordan, rop tussu m'airer.
Rop tú mo dítiu, rop tú mo daingen;
rop tú nom-thocba i n-áentaid n-aingel.
Rop tú cech maithius dom churp, dom anmain;
rop tú mo flaithius i n-nim 's i talmain.
Rop tussu t' áenur sainserc mo chride;
ní rop nech aile acht Airdrí nime.
Co talla forum, ré n-dul it láma,
mo chuit, mo chotlud, ar méit do gráda.
Rop tussu t' áenur m' urrann úais amra:
ní chuinngim daíne ná maíne marba.
Rop amlaid dínsiur cech sel, cech sáegul,
mar marb oc brénad, ar t' fégad t' áenur.
Do serc im anmain, do grád im chride,
tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime.
Tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime,
do serc im anmain, do grád im chride.
Go Ríg na n-uile rís íar m-búaid léire;
ro béo i flaith nime i n-gile gréine
A Athair inmain, cluinte mo núall-sa:
mithig (mo-núarán!) lasin trúagán trúag-sa.
A Chríst mo chride, cip ed dom-aire,
a Flaith na n-uile, rop tú mo baile.

English translation by Mary Byrne, 1905[edit]

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.
Be thou my meditation by day and night.
May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.
Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.
Be thou with me, be I with thee
Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.
Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.
Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.
Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.
Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.
Be thou every good to my body and soul.
Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.
Be thou solely chief love of my heart.
Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.
Till I am able to pass into thy hands,
My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love
Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.
I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.
Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.
For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.
Thy love in my soul and in my heart --
Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.
O King of the seven heavens grant me this --
Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.
With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,
May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.
Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.
O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,
O ruler of all, be thou my vision.

English version by Eleanor Hull, 1912[edit]

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.

English Methodist version, 1964[edit]

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, and I thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
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.

Modern Irish translations[edit]

The hymn has been translated into Modern Irish many times. The most popular is that by Aodh Ó Dúgain of Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal. Two verses of his translation were recorded by his granddaughter Moya Brennan – the first time any part of his text has been publicly recorded. Since then, those two verses have been recorded by many artists including Roma Downey and Aoife and Iona. These verses are very close translations to the first two of the Old Irish text above.

Bí Thusa ’mo shúile a Rí mhór na ndúil
Líon thusa mo bheatha mo chéadfaí ’s mo stuaim
Bí thusa i m'aigne gach oíche ’s gach lá
Im chodladh no im dhúiseacht, líon mé le do ghrá.
Bí thusa ’mo threorú i mbriathar ’s i mbeart
Fan thusa go deo liom is coinnigh mé ceart
Glac cúram mar Athair, is éist le mo ghuí
Is tabhair domsa áit cónaí istigh i do chroí.

Modern Scottish Gaelic translation[edit]

With Old Irish being the ancestor language of Modern Scottish Gaelic, the song was translated by Céitidh Mhoireasdan and published by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.Soills’ Air Mo Smuain

Dèan dhòmh-sa tuigse,
Cuir soills’ air mo smuain;
Dh’iarrainn gur Tu
Bhiodh ’gam stiùreadh gach uair;
Làmh rium ’s an oidhche
Is romham ’s an tràth,
Réidh rium ’sa mhadainn
Agus glèidh mi tro’n latha.
Ceartas do m’ bhriathran
Agus fìrinn do m’ bheul,
Thusa toirt iùil dhomh
’S mi dlùth riut, a Dhè.
Athair, thoir gràdh dhomh,
Gabh mis’ thugad fhéin;
Cum mi ri d’ thaobh
Is bi daonnan ’nam chrè.
Dìon mi, a Thighearna,
Ri mo chliathaich ’s gach feachd;
Cùm mi fo d’ sgiath
’S thoir dhomh misneachd is neart,
Fasgadh do m’ anam
Is mi ri d’uchd dlùth;
Treòraich mi dhachaigh,
Dhè chumhachdaich Thu.
Beartas cha’n fhiach leam;
No miann chlann ’nan daoin’,
Thusa na m’ fhianais
Fad làithean mo shaogh’il
Thusa, Dhè ghràsmhoir,
A-mhàin na mo chrìdh’,
Le blàths is gràdh sìorraidh,
Mo Thighearna ’s mo Rìgh.

Other languages[edit]

Gå inte förbi (in English: Don't Walk Past) is a duet-single from Swedish singer Peter Jöback and Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø released in Sweden. It is taken from Peter Jöback's 2003 Christmas album Jag kommer hem igen till jul[6] and was released on November 12. This song is based on a traditional Christian hymn from Ireland called Be Thou My Vision.[7] Gå inte förbi was translated into Swedish by Ulf Schagerman and Jöback sings the lyrics in Swedish while Sissel sings in Norwegian. Norwegian newspaper VG gave it 4 out of six.[8] It was a big hit in Norway and Sweden in the Christmas time of 2003 and a music video directed by Mikadelica was made in Denmark.[9]

  • Bahasa Indonesia - "Kaulah, ya Tuhan, Surya hidupku"
  • Chinese - "成为我异象"
  • Dutch - "Wees Mijn Verlangen"
  • French - "Qu'en toi je vive, Seigneur bien aimé"
  • German - "Steh mir vor Augen"
  • Korean - "내 맘의 주여 소망 되소서"
  • Italian - "Sii la mia Visione"
  • Nepali - "होऊ मेरो दर्शन"
  • Polish - "On moim Panem"
  • Spanish - "Oh Dios, Sé Mi Visión", "Oh Dios de mi alma, Sé Mi Visión"
  • Thai - "โอ้เจ้าแห่งดวงจิต"
  • Ukrainian - "Будь мені, Боже, метою життя"
  • Welsh - "Bydd yn Welediad fy nghalon a'm byw"
  • Greece - "Γίνε όραμα μου Θεέ της καρδίας"

Musical accompaniment[edit]

The musical composition, "Slane"

The hymn is sung to the melody "Slane", an Irish folk tune in 3/4 time,[10] first published as "With My Love on the Road" in Patrick Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Songs in 1909.[11] The tune is a more elemental distillation of earlier forms, such as "The Hielan's o' Scotland'[12] and "By the Banks of the Bann," also compiled in Joyce (1909).[13] The words of "Be Thou My Vision" were first combined with this tune in the Irish Church Hymnal in 1919.[14] In some modern renditions the rhythm of "Slane" is adapted to 4/4 time.[15]

Two more 20th century hymns have been set to the same tune. The first was "Lord of All Hopefulness" written by Jan Struther around 1931.[16] The second was a popular wedding hymn, "God, In the Planning and Purpose of Life", written by John Bell and Graham Maule and first appearing in publication in 1989.[17]

Modern renditions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Be Thou My Vision at Cyberhymnal
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Songs and Hymns entry
  4. ^ Daw, Carl P. Jr., "Be Thou My Vision", Glory to God: A Companion, Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 ISBN 9781611646528
  5. ^ "The New Methodist Hymn Book Illustrated", John Telford (Epworth Press, London, 1934): This Old Irish poem was translated by Mary E. Byrne M.A. of the University of Ireland, an Irish Research worker to the Board of Intermediate Education. It was versified by Miss Eleanor Henrietta Hull, founder of the Irish Text Society, its secretary in 1899 and sometimes President of the Irish Literary Society of London and author of books on Ireland.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Be Thou My Vision sheet music
  11. ^ Patrick Joyce, Old Irish Folk Music and Songs, 1909, p. 151
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Smith III, James D. "Be Thou My Vision". Christianity Today Library. Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  15. ^ For example, Be Thou My Vision – revamped Archived September 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine..
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links[edit]