Hymn of the Week: Be Thou My Vision (SLANE)

 (No promises yet that this will be an actual weekly feature, but I have enough to last a couple of years at this rate.)

Hymn Title: Be Thou My Vision

Tune Name: SLANE

Meter: 10 10 10 10

The short stretch of Ordinary Time that separates Christmas from Lent is filled with directives on how to live the New Covenant. Depending on how far you get through the numbered Sundays, and which liturgical year you are on, you will find the Beatitudes, Jesus' discourse on one's interior thought being of more import than one's outer actions ("the law says... but I say..."), various parables, and many accounts of healing. What it all comes down to is the need to align oneself interiorly with grace, which will show forth in action.

The text of Be Thou My Vision is a perfect meditation on these directives - a plea to God to make His will our will, to be our interior light and guide in all things. This theme comes up more often than any other in the Offertory Antiphons throughout the year, making this hymn a great choice for your Collection Hymn.

The text here is a versified translation of "Rop tĂș mo Baile," an Old Irish lorica, or prayer for protection. There's a whole Wikipedia article on it, if the scholarship on it interests you, but I love it chiefly for its pure Irish soul - the focus of everything on the goodness of God, and nothing else matters. The tune it is most often set to, SLANE, has a bit of a range - commonly set in E-flat, it goes down below middle C and up an octave and a half above that, up to where altos and basses may complain, but it is simple to hear and pick up. Keep your abdominal support strong on those high notes, and you'll barely notice that you're really up there.

(Incidentally, do you know how the Sundays in Ordinary Time are ordered? You never do get to celebrate every one of them - because of vagaries of calendars and the year not breaking up into an even number of weeks, the first Sunday in Ordinary Time to come after Easter Season closes will always skip at least one extra place ahead of where you left off on Ash Wednesday. So at the end of Christmas Season, you begin at One (well, Two, actually, as the Baptism of the Lord takes the place of the First Sunday in Ordinary Time), go in order until you hit Ash Wednesday, get through Lent and Easter, then take a look at what day Christ the King falls on; count the weeks backwards from 33 from there, to get to which Sunday in Ordinary Time you begin with after Easter. Make sense?)

Click here to print the sheet music!


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