Today, dearest traveller, I would like you to come sit by the fire because I have to tell you about this famous song, that you no doubt know. But do you know its history?
The text of “Be Thou My Vision”/”Rop tú mo Baile” reflects aspects of life in Early Christian Ireland (400-800CE). The original Old Irish text, “Rop tú mo Baile”, is often attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill in the 6th century. However, scholars believe it was written later than that. Some date it to the 8th century; others putting it as late as the 10th or 11th century.
A 14th century manuscript attributed to Adhamh Ó Cianáin contains a handwritten copy of the poem in Middle Irish, and is held at the National Libray of Ireland. Here you can read a most excellent piece by Sheila Louise Wright! It includes the handwritten manuscript from Adhamh and has sheet music! Brilliant, right!!
The Irish version can be seen here on You Tube. Scroll down for a ‘regular’ version of this song in English.