13 January 2011

Encounter with an Old Friend

I was watching Ken Burns' 1997 documentary, Thomas Jefferson on Netflix this evening when I came across an old friend, the Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision," based on an ancient text in Old Irish and to me a rather dramatic statement of oneness with the Universe.  I thought perhaps you might like to hear it sung and read the lyrics.  See the text below and the sample available at this Myspace Player link:http://www.ilike.com/artist/Fernando+Ortega/track/Be+Thou+My+Vision?src=onebox .  See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_Thou_My_Vision for a Wikimedia version sung in Old Irish (in the Lyrics section).  

Thanks go to choral director John Yarrington and to composer Alice Parker for introducing me to this work many, many years ago.

(English Versification by Eleanor Hull, 1912)

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, 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.

C L Oates
Norman, Oklahoma, USA
13 January 2011