Top o’ the morning to you! I hope that you are wearing green or drinking a Shamrock Shake or eating corned beef or doing whatever it is you do on a day when everyone is Irish.
So most of us have heard of Saint Patrick, but today I’d like to introduce you to a lesser-known Irish hero: a monk named Saint Dallan. You’ve probably never heard his name, but you just might know his work: he’s the author of the hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”
In the sixth century, a hundred or so years after Patrick landed in Ireland, Dallan dedicated his life to the Lord and to the people of his country. His given name was Eochaid, but most people called him Dallan, which meant “little blind one.”
That’s right. The man who wrote “Be Thou My Vision” was blind.
For generations, the Old Irish version of “Be Thou My Vision” was used as a prayer and chanted by monks throughout Ireland. It wasn’t until 1905 that the words were translated into English. The poem was set to music several years later, in 1912.
The simple yet profound lyrics of this song are just as relevant today as they were when they were penned some fourteen centuries ago:
Be Thou my vision,
O Lord of my heart.
Naught be all else to me,
Save that Thou art.
Almost five years ago, I walked down an aisle on a dewy August morning toward Daniel, grinning like a schoolboy in his gray striped suit, while a handful of our closest family and friends sang these words:
Thou my best thought,
By day or by night,
Waking or sleeping,
Thy presence my light.
The words seemed more fitting than other song we could find. As we entered into this covenant, this promise that was bigger than either one of us, we couldn’t see what lay ahead. We knew God had a plan to knit our stories together into one, but there was so much we couldn’t see. We had to cling to the belief that he would see us through the days and years ahead—that he would be our vision when we couldn’t see.
Be Thou my wisdom,
And thou my true word,
Thou ever with me,
And I with Thee Lord.
The truth is, even if we have eyes, we lack vision. In those moments when our dreams blind us or our trials cloud our ability to see or the darkness makes us lose our step, we don’t just need better vision. We need the Lord himself to be our vision.
Thou my great Father,
And I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling,
And I with thee one.
Today I invite you to join me in praying the words of this blind monk:
Be Thou my vision at work.
Be Thou my vision at home.
Be Thou my vision in my relationships.
Be Thou my vision in my decisions.
Be Thou my vision in all I do today.
And if you’re feeling especially festive, you can attempt the Old Irish version:
Rop tú mo baile, a Choimdiu cride:
ní ní nech aile acht Rí secht nime.