Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One of the Oldest Hymns We Now Sing

Beside the songs that have come from Psalms and prayers of the Bible, I think "Be Thou My Vision" is one of the oldest we still sing. It is one of my favorite songs. The lyrics, which may have been  centuries old at the time, were set to the tune in the 6th Century. When we sing it, we are, at least, singing a remnant of a song that Christians have spoken or sung for almost two millennia. The lyrics are, of course, a bit different than the original version in order to accommodate the metrics of English, as well as add some old English flavor to them. But the original translation of the Gaelic, by Mary Byrne, is just as beautiful without the rhyme, so I thought I would display it here.

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.
Be thou my meditation by day and night.
May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.
Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.
Be thou with me, be I with thee
Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.
Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.
Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.
Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.
Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.
Be thou every good to my body and soul.
Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.
Be thou solely chief love of my heart.
Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.
Till I am able to pass into thy hands,
My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love
Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.
I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.
Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.
For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.
Thy love in my soul and in my heart --
Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.
O King of the seven heavens grant me this --
Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.
With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,
May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.
Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.
O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,
O ruler of all, be thou my vision.
Amen to that!

No comments:

Post a Comment