Be Thou My Vision
“Be Thou My Vision” is an ancient Irish hymn written in memory and honor of the great faith of St. Patrick. Even now, centuries later, it still serves as a reminder to refocus our minds, hearts, and lives on our Great God. This hymn of submission to God manifests humility in abandoning what the world has to offer and reflecting on God’s provisions in heaven.
This song’s main focus in heavenward, so it looks upward and forward to God, heaven, and eternity. All of this hope is informed by the gospel, as without Christ’s saving work, we couldn’t have this hope. The second verse gets the closest to gospel language when it says, “I Thy true son, Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one,” noting the unity that occurs between God and His children. The last verse also uses the phrase “victory won.” This song is not gospel-centered, but it’s author was certainly writing through a gospel lens.
Names of God
There are many names of God in this text. Vision, Lord, Wisdom, Word, Father, High King, Heaven’s Sun, and Ruler are all used to refer to God. This song is mainly addressed to God the Father; however, there are some lines that could be referring to Jesus as well. For instance, when it says High King and Ruler, these are titles given to Jesus and He is the one who won our victory. He is also Heaven’s Sun and the Word. With all of these rich titles, this song does a good job at specifying who is being sung to and about.
As previously mentioned, this song is very heavenward. Even the nature in general of asking that our eyes be more and more fixed on God and heaven is evidence of this. By the end of the song there is a yearning and excitement about going to heaven to be united with God. Even the earthly language is used to contrast our inheritance in heaven of Christ Himself.
Theological vs. Doxological
This song does remind us of many truths about God. But it does so mainly in a Doxological context. This is a hard call, but I would classify this song generally as more Doxological than Theological. That being said, it does well enough to stand on its own without needing something before it to respond to.
Why Did it Get Its Score?
“Be Thou My Vision” landed in the top half of the “Use Carefully” category on the “Is it Helpful? Chart” and earned a 75%. This is a fantastic score for a song that is not focused on the gospel in its text. This song stands out to me as one of the most useful “Use Carefully” songs I have considered. It stands above its fellow songs because of the dependency on God and the serious address of our complete reliance on Him expressed.
Utilizing it in a Service
Although I mentioned that it doesn’t necessarily need to follow something more Theological, in order to serve as a response, that is something to which this song would easily lend itself. However, if you are beginning a service that will be centered around this idea of our dependence on God or our need to refocus on Him, it can be a good way to open.