|The hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” has its origins almost fifteen hundred years ago in Ireland. We believe that it was written by the sixth century Irish poet, Dallán Forgaill, also known as St. Dallán. Monks chanted his poetry, and someone much later used it as the basis for this hymn.
We believe that St. Dallán lost his sight, which inspired the first line, “Be Thou our vision.” Legend has it that he recovered his sight after writing a poem praising St. Colomba.
The hymn is a prayer—a prayer that Christ will be our vision—our best thought—our presence—our light.
What would it mean if Christ were our vision? How would it change our lives?
It would mean simply this—that instead of seeing the world through the eyes of a Madison Avenue advertising agent or a Hollywood movie or a television newscaster, we would see the world through Christ’s eyes.
It would change our lives, because seeing the world through Christ’s eyes would cause us to love as Christ loved. It would cause us to focus less on getting the things that we want and more on giving what we can to help others. It would cause us to care less about other people’s opinions and more about the direction that God would have our lives to take.
In some ways it would complicate our lives, because we could not longer be as focused on the things that the world considers important—more money, bigger houses, more prestigious cars. But in other ways it would simplify our lives, because it would allow us to stop striving for ever-larger piles of things and would allow us to focus on spiritual values. People who have come to see the world through Christ’s eyes tend to be centered—less troubled than most—strong with a strength that comes from God.
“Be thou my vision.” As we sing it, let’s remember that it is a prayer. Let us make it our prayer.
THANKS TO MICHAEL BONNER, who provided most of the above information about St. Dallán. Michael was born in Ireland, seven miles from St. Dallán’s burial site, and feels a close kinship to him.
Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan