Be Thou My Vision

 
Something to listen to while you read. Solo piano sheet music available at Sheet Music Plus.

Tune Name: Slane (Irish Folk Tune)

Alternate Texts: Lord of All Hopefulness; God in the Planning and Purpose of Life; Christ Be My Leader by Night as by Day; God of Creation, All Powerful, All Wise; Lord of Creation, to You Be all Praise; She Came to Jesus from Outside the Fold; God of the Women Who Answered Your Call; God, We Have Come from Our Families and Homes; When We Are Tested and Wrestle Alone; Take Time to Be Holy, Speak Oft with Thy Lord; Gather Your Children, Dear Savior, in Peace; God, Teach Us Peacemaking, and many others.

Fun Fact: Jan Struther, author of the alternate text Lord of All Hopefulness, sat behind Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the future Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) in class and dunked the royal’s pigtails into the inkwell on her desk!

The hymn Be Thou My Vision was not so much “written” but instead grew over time.

Be Thou My Vision Piano Sheet Music

The original text dates from at least the eighth century but many sources attribute its genesis to sixth-century Irish poet and monk, Dallan Forgaill. Translated from Old Irish into English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne in 1905, the text was then versified into its current version by Eleanor Hull in 1912. Seven years later, Hull’s version was paired with the old Irish folk tune, Slane, creating the beloved hymn we know today.

Several alternate texts have been written for the tune Slane. One alternate text, Lord of All Hopefulness, by English author Jan Struther (pen name for Joyce Anstruther Maxtone Graham Placzek and creator of the character Mrs. Miniver), was first published in Songs of Praise in 1931. A more recent alternate text penned by Church of Scotland minister John L. Bell in 1989, God, in the Planning and Purpose of Life, is appropriate for wedding ceremonies.

With its simple, lilting melody and variety of text choices, this familiar and well-loved hymn is ideal for many occasions throughout the church year.