The roots of this hymn have been traced back as far as the 6th century AD. But it was only in 1905 when the original Old Irish text, ‘Rop tu mo baile, a Choimdiu cride’, became known in the English language through a translation by Mary Byrne. A few years later in 1912 a metrical version was published by Eleanor Hull. This is the version which has mostly been in use for the century since.
The melody to which the text is most often sung is called SLANE. It is a traditional Irish melody which appeared with the text in the Church Hymnal (1919). Erik Routley‘s harmonisation is widely used in many hymnals. The combination of a stirring melody and expressive makes this hymn a popular choice for different occasions and commemorations. And the hymn has been translated into a diversity of languages from Dutch to Ukrainian to Swedish and Chinese.
The hymn tune SLANE, to which the words ‘Be thou my vision’ are widely sung.