INVOCATION and READING
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.
(UMH #451 st.1)
John 12: 44-46
44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
Glory to God, my light by day or night!
This week’s hymn, on the schedule to sing in church this coming Sunday, is rooted deep in Irish history. There is disagreement among scholars as to the poems origin though it is often attributed to the famous 6th century Irish poet, Dallán Forgaill (c. 560 – c.640). He was later recognized as a saint in his community because of his writing, his involvement in founding several churches, and his martyrdom on the small island of Inishkeel. It is also said that he was blind at the time he wrote the poem, lending a human analogy to following God through the darkness of life.
In 1905, the poem was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931). This translation was first versified (from its original couplet form) in 1912 by Eleanor Hull, who was President of The Irish Literary Society at the time. These verses were first published in The Irish Church Hymnal of 1919, and paired with an old Irish folk melody – the one we sing today! The tune name given it was *SLANE.
May this great hymn, sung by the Voices of Ireland, encourage us to see with our hearts, no matter how life obscures our vision. So, as our eyes and hearts see things in the same way, our path is lighted, and we walk forward with Christ always at our side. We walk with bold confidence of faith, and humbly endeavor to radiate God’s light and love in all we do.
Dear God, may You be our vision, O Lord of our hearts. Dismissing our ways, our selfish desires, our worldly pleasures, and acknowledging Your will. May our hearts eagerly seek to be a light that helps the lost and the broken see You. Give us the strength to stand firm on our faith, that no matter what happens, our path is guided by You and only You. To You be the glory, the honor, and the praise forever. Amen.
*It was on Slane Hill in County Meath around 433 CE that St. Patrick lit candles on Easter Eve, defying a decree by High King Logaire of Tara that no one could light a fire before the king signaled the beginning of the pagan spring festival by lighting a fire on Tara Hill. King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s devotion that, despite his defiance, he was permitted to continue his work as Ireland’s first Christian missionary.
Offered by Joche Wilmot, Director of Music Ministries