“Be Thou My Vision” has been one of my favorite hymns for as long as I can remember. But I find that it’s language is a little archaic and not immediately understandable to most modern English speakers. There are modernizations of the language out there, but they tend to change the nature of the song to get around the slightly clunky “Be Thou” constructions. For instance, while I love the sound of Rend Collective’s version, they changed a prayer (“Be Thou My Vision”) to a song of dedication (“You Are My Vision”). Below is my attempt to modernize the hymn, but retain its petitionary tone—though I admittedly take some license here and there. I’d love any feedback or suggestions.
Be My Soul’s Vision
Be my soul’s vision, O Lord of my heart;
All else is vain compared to who are you.
Be my best thought, each day and each night,
Awake or sleeping, your presence: my light.
Lord, be my wisdom, and my truest word;
Be with me always and I with you, Lord;
You’re my great Father, and I’m your true son;
You dwell within me, united as one.
Be my war shield and my sword for the fight;
Lord, be my dignity, my soul’s delight;
Be my soul’s shelter; in trouble, my tower.
Raise my eyes heavenward, O God, great in power.
Instead of riches and man’s empty praise,
Be my inheritance, now and always:
You and you only, be first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure you are.
High King of Heaven, my victory’s won,
May I reach Heaven’s joy: the bright living Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever may fall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.