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My Favorite Hymn: Be Thou My Vision

By David Leonard (Worship Associate)

As a worship leader and songwriter, I oftentimes find myself looking to some of the great hymns for inspiration. We as Christians, have an incredible heritage of music; songs that have, for centuries, built up the faith of believers and encouraged congregations all across the globe.

One of my favorite hymns is Be Thou My Vision.

Melodically, the song has a way of imprinting itself on my mind. So complex in structure, yet so easy to remember. Lyrically, it is as deep and rich as any hymn I’ve sung.

Verse 1

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

Verse 1 is a prayer—a longing for God to be our sole focus. He is the very best thing on which we could set our hearts and minds. Colossians 3:2 says “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” What better way to start a song, than to align our focus on things eternal; Christ in all His beauty.

“Worship is communion with God in which believers, by grace, center their minds’ attention and hearts’ affection on the Lord, humbly glorifying God in response to his greatness and his word.” Bruce Leafblad

Verse 2

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Verse 2 reminds us of our identity in Christ. 1 John 3:1 says “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God.” What a reality, that God calls us His children! Once separate from Him because of our sin. Now unified with Him through Christ our Lord.

Verse 3

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine Inheritance, now and always

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

Verse 3 may be one of the most convicting and challenging verses in any song for me. The constant tension of seeking the world’s praise and validation can become consuming, and is ultimately an empty pursuit. Our treasure (Matthew 6:20), our worth and our inheritance is unequivocally found in Christ.

Verse 4

High King of Heaven, my victory won

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun

Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

The song’s final verse has its sight set on eternity with Christ. With a salvation securely found in the work of Christ, we now wait until he calls us home to be with Him in heaven. I think of Paul’s words in Philippians 1:23 when he said “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” While the things we experience and enjoy on earth may bring us joy, how much greater will our joy be when we are in the presence of our eternal Treasure!

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