A Hymn for Holy Week
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.
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.
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.
High King of heaven, My victory won, May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, Whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
The words to this hymn come from the Irish monastic tradition (8th Century). It is an example of what is called a “lorica” or breastplate – a Celtic chant to be recited for arming oneself for spiritual or physical battle. Another well-known Celtic lorica is “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” “I bind upon myself today.” Here’s a portion of this particular lorica.
I bind this day to me forever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river; his death on Cross for my salvation.
His bursting from the spiced tomb, his riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom—I bind unto myself today. Christ be with me,Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.
The text is set to the hymn tune “Slane.” This tune is of Irish folk origin. It is named for a hill about ten miles from Tara Hill in County Meath. It is on Slane Hill, according to an account in the “Confessions of St. Patrick” that the Irish saint defied the command of the pagan king Loigaire by lighting the Pascal candle on Easter Eve.
A Couple of Wonderful Prayers to Mediate Upon During Holy Week
Thomas Chalmers: “Keep alive in me, O God, the love of Yourself, and the love of my neighbor, and all will be right. Oh that I could appropriate Christ more simply. I am far from God, but I do find along with this the absence from my thoughts of Christ through whom I was brought near. It is my prayer that self may be denied, that the cross may be taken up daily, that I may live as a devoted servant of Him by whose blood I am purchased.”
Jack Miller: “That we would be people who glory in the cross because we are profoundly aware of our own sinfulness while remaining strong in the continued, fresh discovery of the pardoning grace of God revealed in the cross.” (Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, p.117).
A Great Quote on the significance of the cross of Christ:
Abbot Rupert of Deutz, wrote in the early 12th century:
“The cross of Christ is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the downfall of the devil, the uplifting of mankind, the consolation of our imprisonment, the prize for our freedom.” The Cross of Christ is the safeguard of our faith, the assurance of our hope, and the throne of love. It is also the sign of God’s mercy and the proof of forgiveness. By his cross Jesus has redeemed our sin and atoned for our punishment. The way to peace, joy, and righteousness in the kingdom of God and the way to victory over sin, despair, and death is through the cross of Jesus Christ.
“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death.”