Be Thou My Vision for Voices & Keyboard

Composer
Irish melody
Arranger
Difficulty
Easy (Grades 1-3)
Duration
1 minute
Genre
Other
Instrumentation
Voice + keyboard
Instrumental parts
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Arranged for Voices & Keyboard, "Be Thou My Vision" (Old Irish: Rop tú mo baile or Rob tú mo bhoile) is a traditional hymn from Ireland. The most well known English version, with some minor variations, was translated by Eleanor Hull and published in 1912. In 1919, the lyrics were set to the tune of the Irish folk tune "Slane", to which the song is sung to this day, both in English and Irish. The song dates from at least the eighth century, though it has often been attributed to the sixth-century Irish Christian poet Saint Dallan.

The original Old Irish text, "Rop tú mo Baile" is often attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill in the 6th century. The text had been a part of Irish monastic tradition for centuries before its setting to music. It was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne, M.A., in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905. The English text was first versified by Eleanor Hull, in 1912, and is now the most common text used.

Be Thou My Vision is a traditional Irish hymn the words of which are often attributed to Dallán Forgaill the sixth century Irish poet, the music was added by the Welsh composer David Evans in the 1927 and is based on the music of the Irish folk song ’Slane’ which is believed to possibly date back as far as the fifth century and is about St. Patrick defying the pagan King Lóegaire of Tara by lighting candles on Easter Eve.

According to mythology, when St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century, King Logaire of Tara decreed that no one was allowed to light any fires until a pagan festival was begun by the lighting of a fire on Slane Hill. In a move of defiance against this pagan ritual, St. Patrick did light a fire, and, rather than execute him, the king was so impressed by his devotion that he let Patrick continue his missionary work. Three centuries later, a monk named Dallan Forgaill wrote the Irish poem, “Rop tú mo Baile” ("Be Thou my Vision), to remember and honor the faith of St. Patrick. Forgaill was martyred by pirates, but his poetry lived on as a part of the Irish monastic tradition for centuries until, in the early 20th century, Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the poem into English, and in 1912, Eleanor Hull versified the text into what is now a well-loved hymn and prayer that at every moment of our lives, God would be our vision above all else.

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