Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

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;
O King of glory, my treasure Thou art.
O King of glory, my victory won;
Rule and reign in me ’til Thy will be done;
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall;
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.


@bamminer, considering that such hymns have been translated into other languages (as has our bible) , I think nothing is holding you back from sort-of-translating this to a language form that is more comfortable and familiar to you. The focus is on how the words of such hymns help us to focus and express our prayerful praise and worship to God, and God's delight is in our hearts turned to Him.

But I think it is unwise to criticise the language of these hymns, and if anyone you know had such an impression, you should counsel them accordingly. This hymn, as you know, was translated a century ago, and so the words and style used would naturally match the style of hymns of that time and church tradition.

Such hymns (and our Psalms) and their sources usually were composed by our brothers and sisters of the faith who had gone before us and who, with beautiful hearts molded by God's fires, created these inspired songs for their brethren and their future faith heirs, in service to God.

So let's give thanks to God together for these songs that were usually birthed through hardship, translate these hymns to best minister to one another if we are led to, and lovingly honour the memories these authors whom we will someday meet in heaven, in the kingdom of our God and our Lord.

I am a Chinese, btw, and I love this song. Hymns and psalms truly come alive for people who are experiencing the pain that leads us to turn our eyes back to God.

David Paradis

Isabela, Puerto Rico

Bryan Jeffers and Allison, if the Wikipedia article is correct, the version without the "battle" verse is a Methodist Hymnal version. Very interesting article; check it out.


NC, United States

Be Thou My Vision is a Hymn originally written in the 8th century in Gaelic and translated into English in the early 1900s when Irish Christians were highly persecuted an forced to speak English instead. Changing it again now to suit word preferences of modern colloquial speech would further desecrate the richness and beauty this song still manages to evoke. Granted it would be even more incredible if heard sung in its original language no doubt! But yes, it is missing the third verse be thou my battle shield.

Blossom M

Putnam Valley, New York, United States

I am so glad that when my Lord and Savior died on Calvary, He never discriminated, His precious Blood was shed for all, irrespective of race, color or creed. I just wish that God's people could see each other through the eyes of our Master and Lord, as being all equal in His sight. What a glorious day that would be!

....still be my vision oh Ruler of all!

Linda Brown

Long Beach, California, United States

Bamminer, I understand where you are coming from & can appreciate your perspective. I am Mexican-American & love/embrace my heritage as well. This song IS special because of its ethnic tone & authentic old Irish culture embedded into change it in any way would be a death to the Irish essence that this song is based on. The Irish were persecuted beyond belief in history & have now risen to so much, but their language was stolen from them & they were forced to speak an English version of it....these people have suffered! To change such a historic & cultural song would be a tragedy & a shame....just like we would never want to change black cultural songs & "whiten" them up just for white people to "accept" them. We miss the point of cultural acceptance & cultural appreciation if we start altering things just to suit our own tastes.....doesnt that defeat the purpose (God's purpose) of us all being different? I think our duty is to learn, appreciate, & respect cultural differences & thereby we can honor one another :)


Louisville, MS, United States

The song could be even more popular than it already is by taking the Irish-old English out for black Americans. Amazingly, it still works, even still rhymes. Even if you did that, I feel white Americans would still love it, because it means the same thing and it sounds the same, too! Europeans could keep the old version, if they liked; still, it would be so exact that it probably wouldn't even matter to them, either. If you changed the naught to nothing, the thou/thy to you/your where appropriate (sometimes the thou would omitted, as thou/thy can be awfully redundant), and art to are. It just comes off as being corny to most black Americans. That simple change puts this incredibly beautiful song in the running for greatest gospel song ever (probably top twenty all time when you consider how relevant the song is to living a Christian lifestyle and how beautiful it is). I know it's a prayer, but it's basically (in song terms) a love song to God with God [and Jesus] being married to a personal relationship with Him! When I first heard/saw it, I thought (even as a black man) that the song had potential to be one the greatest gospel songs of all time; it prompted me to do some research. I found the lyrics and I felt as if the song was incredibly beautiful, but seemed initially as if thrown to together for the sake of rhyming like bad poetry. I read the lyrics and said the song could be better for American audiences with some simple meaningless tweaks. Some black Americans can't get past the corniness and those words "say" that blacks are not included (far more white European people language than black American) and that the words are not American so they must have been thrown together like bad poetry with lack of real relevance and TRUE feeling (it forms opinions that don't seem to be true about this song anyway). Why have such an incredibly beautiful, relevant song tarnished because many--if not most--black Americans are going to look at it as if were rocks or dirt? Everybody should listen to this and understand, but sadly many won't get past those initial psychological barriers. All I'm proposing is that--since it could be done very easily without changing much or any effect--why not make it American for American audiences and Irish for European audiences?

Sam Harrell

New Castle, DE, United States

Hallelujah! Yes, this is my whole heart's cry!


Putnam, New York, United States

Love this and all the great hymns of the faith. So beautiful to song them unto the God of my salvation. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!!!



I love this song, GOD.


Indian Walk, Trinidad And Tobago

I use this hymn as a prayer. Bless God for it may it bless many.