A little history about hymn 451, Be Thou My Vision. It is one of our oldest and most moving hymns coming to us from the Eighth Century!      Are you aware only one missionary is honored with a global holiday and only one is known by his own distinct color of green — St. Patrick, of course, missionary to Ireland.      Patrick was born in 373, along the banks of the River Clyde in what is now called Scotland. His father was a deacon, and his grandfather a priest. When Patrick was about 16, raiders descended on his little town and torched his home. When one of the pirates spotted him in the bushes, he was seized, hauled aboard ship, and taken to Ireland as a slave. There he gave his life to the Lord Jesus.      “The Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief,” he later wrote, “in order that I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God.”      Patrick eventually escaped and returned home. His overjoyed family begged him to never leave again but one night, in a dream reminiscent of Paul’s vision of the Macedonian Man in Acts 16, Patrick saw Irishman pleading with him to come evangelize Ireland.      It wasn’t an easy decision, but Patrick, about 30, returned to his former captors with only one book, the Latin Bible, in his hand. His preaching was powerful and Patrick became one of the most fruitful evangelists of all time, planting about 200 churches and baptizing 100,100 converts.      In 1905, Mary Elizabeth Byrne, a scholar in Dublin, Ireland, translated this ancient Irish poem into English. Another scholar, Eleanor Hull of Manchester, England, tool Byrne’s translation and crafted it into verses with rhyme and meter. Shortly thereafter it was set to a traditional Irish folk song, “SLANE” named for an area in Ireland where Patrick reportedly challenged local Druids with the gospel.

 

~Ray Ackerman

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