Today’s Word from Sheila Weidendorf

Text Origin: Middle Irish Poem “Rop tú mo Baile”
Attribution: Saint Dallan Forgaill
Tune: Slane (the village from which this Old Irish folk tune was collected)

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 vain, 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
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

I love this hymn! The tune is an old Irish folktune (what’s not to love about that?!?!?), which made its earlier published appearances in a variety of popular songs, including, “With My Love on the Road,” “The Hielan’s o’ Scotland,” and “By the Banks of the Bann.” Like many a hymn (and people too!), “Be Thou My Vision” has had many shapes and shifts and iterations along the way of coming to be the hymn we are familiar with.

Below are earlier lyrics, complete with Gaelic clan references (hence the sword and shield imagery due to long history of clan warfare) and the image of God as the great Chieftan:

Original translation from Middle Irish:
~Transl. 1905 by Mary Byrne

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 ever 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 sun.

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.

This past Sunday’s sermon focused on the blind man on the side of the road, made well and whose vision was restored by his encounter with and faith in the Son of David. The visiting Rev. Yee led us on a journey to help us see through the (inner) eyes of that blind man. I am thinking now of the ways in which we see-perceive-discern-judge the world around us. Each of has our filters, our hermeneutical lenses carefully crafted from our own beliefs and concretized experiences. Everything we see and experience— whether in the world around or on the inner plane—is filtered and interpreted through those lenses.

This is understandable, but it is also folly—unless/until we’ve found really good, Cosmic lens cleaner!! The thing about being human is that we believe ourselves too readily. How committed we become to our own filters and lenses, our assumptions and assertions and suppositions. And how often have we been wrong—misguided, influenced by unconscious bias, so committed to our own stories that nothing can “land” purely, simply, unadorned and uninterpreted?

In my life as a classical keyboardist, I spend OODLES of time learning vast amounts of new repertoire. There’s a first reading/play-through, then a building of neuro-muscular pathways as I practice the notes into my hands. Then comes the deeper work of searching for all the clues in the treasure map that is a music score to determine the kind of touch or articulation required to produce a particular tone color, or to develop the phrase relationships between notes so as to sculpt the message. In this deeper work I try to get as close to the composer as I can, having to rely upon my musical training and awareness to decipher the clues in the map, without knowing for sure the composers’ intent. That is my work.

As a person, my work is not much different. If I am to walk my path on this Earth as a spiritual being, a child of God, I am presented with constant opportunity to expand my awareness—and hopefully to increase in wisdom, understanding, and compassion for others. This requires that I regularly challenge, clean, or remove the hermeneutical lenses through which I view the world so that I can more closely view others around me through the eyes of God.

Now I don’t presume to know what God sees, or thinks, or feels. So, to even attempt to witness the world, to bear witness to others’ experiences and joys and sorrows requires daily acts of surrender. In a very real way, each day we are called to “die” to our assumptions and assertions, to lay down our carefully crafted ego-selves so that we might live fully in the love of God. As wonderful as they are, we are called to set aside our stories and suppositions, to be made new in the Consciousness of Christ.

And isn’t that fabulous?!? We must do our own work, bring ourselves to the daily table and allow ourselves to be renewed in love. Full of that love, we can radiate it out to others through our work, our care, through taking the time to truly see one another through the eyes of God, each of us a beautiful expression of God.

Click HERE to listen to my version of this lovely tune.

May blessings abound.