Be Thou My Vision – A Hymn Story

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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,

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p style=”text-align:center;”> Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

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Lord, Teach Us To Pray…or…Yes, There Is A Wrong Way To Pray

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Lord, Teach Us To Pray

By Rick Lee James

One of the great myths of our time is that there is no wrong way to pray. The myth is that we can just start talking about any random thing to God and that counts as prayer. Jesus taught His followers to have the faith of a child. We teach children to pray by helping them to memorize prayers. We say simple prayers like, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” As a child my parents began teaching my sister and I the Lord’s Prayer every night before bed. In time our prayers became a part of us. We came to pray simple childlike prayers as though they were a breath. “Thank you Jesus for this food, help us to be kind and good. Amen” I would contend that this is a good first step in how we learn to pray.

 

Authentic prayer will properly form us as people and as children of God. The way a person prays will tell us much about thier faith, who they believe God is, and who they believe they are.

 

Prayer is not a self-help activity. I would contend that even in our individual, private prayer times, we never truly pray alone. Self-help is not an answer to the things human beings face because the fact is that we cannot help ourselves. We become properly formed with the help of others, and an Other specifically, who shape us, forms us, and re-form us. Sometimes this re-formation is painful but it always merciful and full of grace.

 

Prayer books are wonderful ways to learn how to pray and they help us to be properly formed by putting right words into our mouths. They are aids in helping us listen to the Holy Spirit rather than the Spirit of the age. The Book of Psalms is the most ancient prayer book of the people of God possess, unique in that it shows how we are to respond to God, not just how He comes to us. There are many other prayers in scripture and there are many extra-cannonical prayer books as well. The book of Common Prayer, a favorite of John Wesley, has been used by the church for centuries to teach disciples how to pray. When Jesus’ disciples asked how to pray, they expected to be taught a prayer, and in fact they were given a prayer to pray. Jesus never said, just start talking and God will do the rest. No, Jesus taught us how to pray by teaching us prayers.

 

My encouragement to us today it to be properly formed in prayer. Study prayers in the Bible and in other Orthodox prayer books. Memorize them, recite them, read them aloud to each other until they become your prayers. Today I leave you with two of my favorite prayers from the book of Common prayer, one of John Wesley’s beloved prayer books. May The Lord bless us as we are properly formed together in prayer. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

 

From The Book of Common Prayer:

 

Prayer For the Unity of the Church

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Prayer For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in
heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through
art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on
earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty,
and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for
evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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