Be Thou My Vision – A Hymn Story
In 433 A. D., the Irish King, Logaire of Tara, had enacted a decree that no one could light candles on the Eve of Easter because it coincided with the Druid Feast of Bealtine and the Spring Eqinox. It was the tradition of these Pagan festivals to observe the “fireless night”, when all fires in Ireland were to be extinguished. On the Hill of Tara, in the presence of the High King, a massive bonfire was lit and from this all other fires were to be lit. This annual spring ritual was said to transform the High King into a God-King. The bonfire on the Hill of Tara was the symbol to all that this God-King was in command of the seasons, and that spring began at his command.
Legend has it that in clear defiance of this Pagan observance, St. Patrick built a Paschal bonfire on he hill of Slane, a Christian strong point located ten miles away from the Pagan Strong Point on the Hill of Tara. Patrick built his fire before the the king of Tara built his. The fire from the Hill of Slane would have been clearly seen from the Hill of Tara, and was a blatant statement that Christ was the only God-King for the Christian. Patrick chose to honor God in spite of how it would threaten his life and the story goes that King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s bravery and devotion to Christ that he left him to continue his missionary work in Ireland.
An 8th Century Monk, Dallan Forgaill, penned the words to Be Thou My Vision as a tribute to St. Patrick and his bravery on the Hill of Slane. This hymn was translated from Irish to English in 1905 by Mary E. Byrne and in 1912, Eleanor H. Hull arranged the song into the verse most commonly found in most English hymnals today. The music that accompanies the lyrics is an ancient Irish folk tune called Slane.
This is my tribute to Patrick and to the God he served so faithfully, my rendition of Be Thou My Vision.
Be Thou My Vision
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.
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,
p style=”text-align:center;”> Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
How do we pray for our enemies? Are we called to pray any differently in times like these when terrorists groups like ISIS slaughter people without remorse? Isn’t this just like the world Jesus was in 2000 years ago when Romans occupied his Jewish homeland, enslaved his people, and demanded that they declare “Caesar Is Lord” or face execution? Is it any different than ISIS forcing victims to convert to Islam or die today?
It’s hard to be like Jesus these days. It was hard to be like Jesus 2000 years ago as well. It was hard for Jesus to be like Jesus, but he was like Jesus all the way to the cross, and back. That is to say, Jesus was being like God, perfect as He is perfect. His call to His followers is to follow His example and to do the same. What would Jesus do? Jesus would die for the sins of man. Maybe a better way to say it is, Jesus would die by the sins of man, at the hands of sinful men. In fact, Jesus did die, at the hands of sinful men, execution by sinfulness.
Being like Jesus so often will lead us to the wrong side of a cross, a machine gun, a knife, machete, or a death squad, but I don’t think He was kidding when he taught his followers to take up their cross and follow him. It’s insane, but it’s an insanity that ushers the Kingdom of God into the world.
“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.”
Do we mean that in the bad times when our lives are at stake?
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Do we mean that when terrorists like ISIS are threatening to kill, steal, and destroy our families and take our lives?
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Are we willing to bless when we are cursed? Are we willing to bless the common cup and share the common bread, even when Judas is at the table?
We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.
We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.
We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.
(The Maasai Creed composed in 1960 by the Maasai people of East Africa)
Published on Aug 13, 2013
Lead Sheet Available at this link:
Lyrics and Music by Rick Lee James
Love Our Enemies
God has made this declaration
through His Son, the Prince of Peace,
that to enter in His Kingdom
we must love our enemies.
They may seem our adversaries
but are merely slaves to sin,
so our battle is not with them
who are only hostages
Lord, deliver us from hatred,
prejudice, and cruelty.
Come remove discrimination
that the truth may set us free.
When we look at our reflection
we not only see ourselves
but we see a former captive
whom the grace of God has helped.
Father, show us how to free them
with Your mercy above
for our enemies are brothers
who’ve forgotten how to love.
You have made us in your image,
You’ve redeemed us through Your son.
Gather us into Your Kingdom
where no sword is drawn but love.
Jesus Christ, is our example
showing us the face of God
when He chose to die for sinners
rather than to shed their blood.
So we’ll fight them with affection,
we will conquer them with grace.
May our enemies see Jesus
when they look upon our face
In His time and for His pleasure
pray we all will stand one day
reconciled before the Father
when the old has passed away.
When revenge would cloud our vision
turn our eyes to Calvary
where our Savior died to show us
how to love our enemies.
Lord and Maker of creation,
every life is dear to Thee
In the holy name of Jesus
help us love our enemies
Karissa Knox Sorrell is a wife, mother, writer, and educator. She love books, coffee, early mornings, good friends, and the ocean. She grew up as a preacher’s kid and missionary kid in the Church of the Nazarene and lived in Bangkok, Thailand from the ages of 11-18. Now she makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two children. In her twenties, she and her husband began to learn about liturgy, which led them to the Eastern Orthodox Church. They’ve been there for the past nine years. She has a passion for immigrants and people from other cultures and was an ESL teacher for eleven years. Karissa has also been pursuing creative writing for the past several years and is almost finished writing her first book, Transfigured Faith, a spiritual memoir about growing up in the home of Protestant ministers and later discovering Orthodoxy. Hear more about her writing, her family, and her faith journey on this week’s episode of Voices In My Head, the official podcast of Rick Lee James.
Hello My Friends,
I hope that you are all enjoying your week and that God is blessing you as you draw near to him in this Spring time of year. It always reminds me of newness and life. God is always doing new things in His world.
This has been a year of new things in my life. Most of you know that I released my first book this year and I have been so pleased with the response. Getting endorsements and encouragement form people I’ve admired for so long like Michael Card, Brian Zahnd, Brett McCracken, and Matt Litton just to name a few has been a dream come true. I’ve also received some wonderful review on Amazon from new readers and I just feel so blessed.
The reason I’m writing is that a new opportunity has arisen which could be a real help in getting the book into the hands of more people. Dan Gummel is a talented voice actor who is very interested in narrating an audio version of my book. In order to cover his expenses and studio time I would need to raise about $1500.00 before distribution costs. Since we are in an audio/video society that frankly doesn’t read very much anymore, I feel like this audio book could be used to reach people who might not sit down to read a book, but would give it a listen in their car or while they exercise using their mobile devices.
Today, I’m simply asking if there is any interest level in helping to fund an audio book of Out of the Depths: A Songwriter’s Journey Through The Psalms. I’d love to end each chapter with the song that corresponds allowing people to not only hear the chapter on the Psalm but then respond to it with music. I would love the chance to make this available, but I want to make sure it isn’t just me.
What are your thoughts? Any interest in supporting this endeavor or should I just leave it as is. I’d appreciate your thoughts and prayers on this as people who have been such a blessing to me in the past. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’m not asking you to give today, I really just want to know your thoughts.
Here is a sample of Dan reading a portion of the book so you can have an idea of what it will sound like.
Rick Lee James