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Hymns Rediscovered: Be Thou My Vision

Assistant Pastor Sam Cutforth aims to help us rediscover the power and beauty of some of our hymns.

I wonder if you have had the experience of singing a new song at church and it is so refreshing and new and soul-stirring – but then a year later it seems to have lost its power? Well, that can happen to any song but particularly to hymns which you may have been singing for your whole life. So I want us to look at a hymn a month and rediscover some of the soul-stirring power of the hymns we sing.

I also hope that if you are not familiar with hymns that you might discover a love of singing them for the first time. Hymns are not always easy to understand and appreciate, particularly if you didn’t grow up with them or are new in your faith. But Lord willing, with some explanation, they will become a soul-stirring delight to you.

The first hymn I want us to reflect on is Be Thou My Vision a song first translated into English over 100 years ago. Yet here we are still singing it. The theme or desire in this hymn is that God would be our vision, our vision understood 2 ways:

1. “Our vision” meaning we see and look to God. We want God to loom large in our hearts and lives. And

2. “Our vision” meaning that God is our aim, our goal, our guiding principle for our life; he’s what directs our life.

And as we look at verse 1 it sets up this theme. Be all to me, be my best thought, in the day in the night, whether I am waking and sleeping. Now, between the day and the night and when I’m awake and when I’m asleep, that pretty much covers everything. This hymn calls us always to have God before us.

Verse 2 highlights how God is to be our vision. He is the wisdom and word we live our life by. He is always with us, dwelling in us. He is a father we look to, to guide our lives.

Verses 3 seeks to remind us that God needs to displace wrong visions and desires – visions of wealth, houses, security; visions of the praises from man, from our boss and our friends, our family. And instead, we desire to treasure God, real wealth and have his praises first.

And finally, in verse 4 we bring our minds and hearts into heaven, where one day God will truly and completely be our vision. He will be like the sun which lights our way. He will be our ruler and our all in all.

As we sing this song, I think this song works in 2 ways.

1. First as a prayer. We are singing to God asking him what he would be our vision. But

2. Secondly, it is working on our desires. As we say these words, we desire that these situations and this vision would be true in our life, that God would have the first place in our life.

May God be the first in our hearts this week.

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