Light a Fire

Poems. Lyrics. Books. They have origin stories.

I just learned the origin of my favorite hymn...

On the evening before Easter in 433AD on the Hill of Slane in County Meath, Ireland a former slave lit a fire. He lit a fire & sang a hymn. He defied a royal decree.

Lighting a fire any other day was, well, normal. Expected. Necessary. But this evening before Easter & the Spring Equinox was exceptional. High King Logaire of Tara had ordered that he alone was to light the first fire that night beginning the Druid spring festival. Lighting that fire before the King was equivalent to declaring war on the Druids & the rulers of Ireland.

The former slave was born Scottish. Captured by pirates at 14. Enslaved in Ireland. Escaped years later. Committed his life to Christ's service. Returned at 30 to lead the Irish people to the One who had captured his heart. Lit a fire & sang a hymn.

High King Logaire is said to have been so impressed with the former slave's arrogance that he let him continue his missionary work. By the end of his life, the former slave saw over 2000 churches started & more than 100,000 Irish people come to faith in Christ. The former slave changed Ireland forever.

The hymn he'd composed & sung, translated into English verse in 1905 by Eleanor H. Hull: Be Thou My Vision.

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 are.

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.

Saint Patrick, the former slave of an Irish person became a slave to Christ for the Irish people. With a great vision set & a small fire lit, Saint Patrick changed history.

Though I am free & belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19, 22b-23.

How am I enslaved?

What is my vision?

What fire should I light?

(Hear Glad sing Be Thou My Vision here. Disc 2, Track 3.)

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