The original Old Irish text of “Be Thou My Vision” — “Rop tu mo baile” — is thought to have been written by the early Christian Irish poet Dallan Forgaill (c. 530-598), and had been a part of Irish monastic tradition for centuries before its setting to music.
In 1905, the Irish linguist Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931) translated the text to English, and in 1912, the English journalist and Old Irish scholar Eleanor Henrietta Hull (1860-1935) set the translation into verse.
In 1919, the lyrics were set to the tune of the Irish folk tune “Slane,” which had been associated with the ballad “With My Love Come on the Road” in Patrick W. Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). “Slane” is named for a hill in County Meath, Ireland, where St. Patrick’s lighting of an Easter fire in defiance of the 5th-century pagan king Loegaire led to his unlimited freedom to preach the gospel in Ireland.
Dedicated to Jack Noble White — choirmaster, organist, composer, friend and mentor.
Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba) — $12.99