Be Thou My Vision
The author of the original Old Irish poem "Rop tú mo Baile" on which this hymn is based is unknown. At one point it was attributed to St. Dallán Forgaill, but scholars no longer believe that to be accurate. The melody is a traditional Irish folk tune, "Slane." There is a legend that St. Patrick built a bonfire on a Hill of Slane when King Logaire of Tara would not allow anyone to light any fires, even candles, on the day before Easter due to a conflict with the "fireless night" associated with the pagan festivals of the spring equinox. The hill was therefore an important symbol to early Irish Christians. It is now a sight of various ruins, including a church, friary, college, and a Richard Fleming's 12th Century motte and bailey, which was used as the seat of the Flemings of Slane until Slane Castle was relocated.
The poem may not be about St. Patrick's defiance on the Hill of Slane, but the reference is fitting, given the associated folk tune, and a reminder that no earthly king or authority has dominion over the heart of a Christian.
Although there are no lyrics performed with this arrangement, they are provided here so that the musicians might understand what the music is intended to express.
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;
Though my great Father and 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;
O King of glory, my treasure Thou art.
O King of glory, my victory won;
Rule and reign in me 'til Thy will be done;
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall;
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
About This Arrangement
D Major with no accidentals
First Violin requires third position, grace notes, and harmonics. Second Violin and Third Violin remain in first position but require rapid pizzicato and so are probably not suitable parts for beginners.
I prepared this arrangement to play with my two sisters, who also play the violin. Two of our three violin bows were in need of repair at the time, and I had been working on an arrangement of Be Thou My Vision for violin and mandolin. I took the first violin part from that in-progress arrangement and added two pizzicato violin parts instead of the one mandolin part. They would still work as mandolin parts, if someone wanted to use this arrangement in that manner. While the accompaniment could also be played arco, the intended effect will be lost if you do so.
I chose a lighthouse for the cover to form a connection between a more contemporary purpose for having a light on a hill, the reference to light in the first verse of the hymn, and the idea of a fire on the Hill of Slane.
While Be Thou My Vision is public domain, this arrangement is not. If you did not purchase it, what you have is not a legal copy. You may purchase a legal copy from TrebleStrings.com or SheetMusicPlus.com if you wish to do so. Assuming you have a legal copy, you have my permission to record this piece, under the conditions that you provide attribution and, should you sell or distribute your recording, a direct link to purchase this sheet music.
I hope you enjoy playing this piece as much as I enjoyed arranging it. Have a beautiful and blessed day!
Courtney Gayle Morgan
Soli Deo Gloria