I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1 NIV)
Over the years I have found the words of the hymn Be thou my vision to be among the most poignant and meaningful to me in my Christian walk.
It is a traditional hymn from Ireland often attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill in the 6th century. The hymn was translated into English by Mary Byrne in 1905, formatted into verse in 1912 by Eleanor Hull, and in 1919 the lyrics were set to the beautiful Irish folk tune Slane that is still widely used today.
Recently I heard a new version of the hymn by the Irish Christian folk group, Rend Collective, which expanded my appreciation of the hymn and broadened my understanding of the relationship I have with God.
The title of this groups version is You are my vision. At first I thought that this was just an updating of the early 20th century translation Thou in order to make the language more accessible to a newer generation. But it was more than that as band member Gareth Gilkinson explains:
As we translated the song from the Irish and the old English, we soon realized the true meaning of the words were starting to get lost in our culture. This is not a song of longing and asking God to be our vision, but it is a song of declaration and faith A confidence that we are his true sons and daughters and that He is dwelling inside us While our culture moves faster than ever, we want to remind people of our deep past as Gods people and that is why instead of taking the English version, which is only 100 years old, we have gone back to the original Irish, which is 1,400 years older
So rather than using the words:
Be thou my vision
be all else but naught to me
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:
This version uses:
You are my vision, O king of my heart
You are my best thought by day or by night
You are my wisdom, You are my true word
You’re my great Father, and I’m Your true son
You dwell inside me, together we’re one
You are my battle-shield, sword for the fight
You are my dignity, You’re my delight
You’re my soul’s shelter and You’re my high tower
As I reflected on these words my vision of the Lord, high and exalted, seated on the throne became clearer.
He is right now my vision, my best thought, my wisdom, my great father, my battle-shield, my dignity, my delight, my souls shelter, my high tower. I am right now his true son; he dwells in me and together we are one.
I dont have to wish or hope that this may be so; this is the reality of my relationship with God through Christ.
All I can say in response to Gods great saving work is: I don’t want riches or man’s empty praise… High king of heaven, my treasure You are.
Father, You and You only, are first in my heart. Whatever may befall me still be my vision, oh ruler of all.
Have a good week declaring in faith that God is your vision.