Sunday, October 07, 2018

Vespers: Be Thou My Vision

The High Kings perform "Be Thou My Vision."

The High Kings are an Irish folk group formed in Dublin in 2008. The High Kings has toured Ireland, the United States, and Europe on multiple occasions.

Dallán Forgaill
"Be Thou My Vision" is a traditional hymn from Ireland. The words are based on a Middle Irish poem often attributed to the sixth-century Irish Christian poet Dallán Forgaill, although it is probably later than that. The best-known English version, with some minor variations, was translated by Eleanor Hull and published in 1912. Since 1919 it has been commonly sung to the Irish folk tune "Slane."

The text reflects aspects of life in Early Christian Ireland (c.400-800 AD). The prayer belongs to a type known as a lorica, a prayer for protection. The symbolic use of a battle-shield and a sword to invoke the power and protection of God draws on Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:16-17), which refers to "the shield of faith" and "the sword of the Spirit."

Such military symbolism was common in the poetry and hymnnology of Christian monasteries of the period due to the prevalence of clan warfare across Ireland. The poem makes reference to God as "King of the Seven Heavens" and the "High King of Heaven".This depiction of the Christian God as a chieftain or High King is a traditional representation in Irish literature; medieval Irish poetry typically used heroic imagery to cast God as a clan protector.

Be Thou my vision, oh 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

High King of Heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, oh, bright heaven's sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision, oh Ruler of all

Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art

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