Be Thou My Vision is an ancient Irish Hymn from the 8th Century. I’ve always loved the verses of this hymn, but I’m not so crazy about the tune. A lot of musicians have tried to cover it (can you cover a hymn? Dunno) but I’m often left with the feeling of ‘leave the original ALONE’. However, The Rend Collective Experiment have done this hymn great justice with their cover ‘You Are My Vision’ on the album, Campfire.
I actually don’t like the trend towards updating hymns because I believe they are a historical treasure. Perhaps I just don’t like covers generally. I’m old enough to know that Frankie Goes To Hollywood sang ‘The Power of Love‘ first, not Gabrielle Aplin (of the infamous John Lewis Christmas ad); Billy Joel sang ‘Just The Way You Are‘ before Barry White made it even more popular and Bobby Brown mesmerised us with ‘My Prerogative‘ before Britney Spears was old enough to date.
Most times covers are a great big flop, but once in a while, talented artistes get it right. Being an Irish folk band, my guess is that Rend Collective were drawn to the hymn. If you’ve never heard their music, I would describe them as Simon & Garfunkel meet Mumford & Sons.
Be Thou My Vision (Written by Dallan Forgaill, translated by Mary Byrne, 1905, and versified 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, and 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.
You make your choice.