What Does “Be Thou My Vision” Mean?

Yesterday this hymn was included in our worship service and I was reminded of a piece I wrote about 4 years ago. Here it is. I hope it speaks to you today.


Perhaps you are familiar with the old hymn entitled Be Thou My Vision. It was written in the 6th century by an Irish writer named Dallan Forgaill.  It is said that he was so committed to writing poetry and studying literature that it caused him to go blind.  The words to the hymn take on a new meaning when you realize that the writer lost his sight in the pursuit of his passion.

Consider the words of the first verse for a moment.

Be Thou my vision, O lord of my heart; Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art; Thou my best thought, in the day and the night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

This, written by a man who had lost his earthly sight but not his spiritual sight. He still knew what was important and chose to ask God for His presence beyond all else. He could have become depressed and lost his passion for writing, instead complaining about his lot in life. But Dallan Forgaill chose the better path; to praise God in all things and to seek His presence continually.

Reading about people like Forgaill inspires me to aim a little higher. To be a little more thankful for what God has done in my life. To adjust my own focus from myself and my challenges to God and His glorious presence.

Here are the rest of the words to this great hymn. Perhaps you might want to listen to it again.

Be Thou my wisdom, be 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.

Be Thou my breast-plate, my sword for the fight; Be Thou my armour, and be Thou my might. Thou my soul’s shelter, and 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, through all my days: Thou and Thou only, the first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven when the battle is done, Grant Heaven`s joy to me , bright heaven`s sun! Christ of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.