Be Thou my vision, O lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought, in the day and the night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my wisdom, be 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.
Be Thou my breast-plate, my sword for the fight;
Be Thou my armour, and be Thou my might.
Thou my soul's shelter, and 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, through all my days:
Thou and Thou only, the first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven when the battle is done,
Grant Heaven's joy to me, bright heaven's sun!
Christ of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.
- a devotional guide to the bible references in the lyrics of the song.
If you are involved in leading worship you may find the following useful for introducing the hymn before congregational singing:-
Each verse of this hymn alludes to biblical passages:-
With "Be Thou My Vision" we may think of the Apostle Paul's testimony in Philippians 3:8 of losing everything for the sake of Christ.
The line "Waking or sleeping", brings to mind Psalm 139 and verse 18 "When I wake up, I am still with you" and speaks of the ommipresent nature of God (the Lord is always present with us).
"Be Thou My Wisdom" - scripture personifies Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs -
"Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square" (Proverbs 1:20 NIV )
We read later in this chapter (verse 28) that it the Lord that is calling out. God himself is wisdom, and we can ask to receive this wisdom into our hearts as we sing the lines of this hymn.
"Be Thou my breast-plate..sword..armour" - this recalls the armour of God passage found in Ephesians 6:13-17 - and St Paul's prayer for protection against Satan's schemes.
Jesus teaches that "
your heart will always be where your riches are" (Luke 12:34, GNT) and the forth stanza of "Be Thou My Vision" is a prayer to be single-minded in placing the "King of Heaven" at the centre of life (and not materialism or recognition for the sake of it).
"But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings" (Malachi 4:2) - our prayer remains the same "whatever befall" - that Christ, the light of Heaven, is always our vision, the centre of our life.