This traditional Irish blessing is an ancient Celtic prayer. Celtic literature is famed for using images of nature and everyday life to speak of how God interacts with with His people. For example, another famous Celtic prayer known as "St Patricks Breastplate" draws upon nature to describe the strength of God. Here's an excerpt:-
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
"May The Road rise up to meet you" is about God's blessing for your journey - may your walk be an easy one - with no huge mountains to climb or obstacles to overcome.
It alludes to three images from nature - the wind, sun and rain - as pictures of God's care and provision. The "wind" can be likened to the Spirit of God, who came as a "mighty wind" at Pentecost. The suns warmth in the prayer reminds us of the tender mercies of God, "by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven" (Luke 1:78, NIV), whilst the soft falling rain speaks of God's provision and sustenance. Finally, we are reminded that we are held safe in God's loving hands as we travel on our journey through life. As such this prayer is a good blessing for wedding ceremonies. The following song version from Prayerscapes of this blessing is often used in marriage services and also at funerals. Listen on Spotify here or click here for Apple Music:
More Celtic blessings:-
May the blessing of light be on you
(Scottish Blessing Prayer)
May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire, so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it. And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in the window of a house, bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm. And may the blessing of the rain be on you, may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines, and sometimes a star. And may the blessing of the earth be on you, soft under your feet as you pass along the roads, soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day; and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it. May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God. And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly.
May The Road Rise Up To Meet You
(Printable prayer image of this ancient Irish blessing)
(suitable as a wedding blessing)
May joy and peace surround you both,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now,
And love be cherished evermore
St Patrick's Breastplate
(an excerpt from this famous prayer, attributed to St Patrick - patron Saint of Ireland)
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
(Read the prayer in full on this page.)
Go where your best prayers take you
Frederick Buechner American writer and theologian, b.1926
One of the main characteristics of Celtic Christianity (approximately from the forth to the seventh century A.D.) is that of a strong connection between the spiritual (what is godly and heavenly) and the earthly (nature and living). In Ireland, St Patrick established monestries that were hubs of community life, were both monks and married people lived and worked together. The "cities" (as St Patrick liked to call them) also often produced beautiful art and craft. The prayer life of the early Celts reflects these aspects of life together and closeness to nature, and is some of the most inspirational church liturgy in existence.
In recent times, Celtic spirituality has witnessed something of a revival in the modern day church. There are now thriving celtic communities (such as the Northumberland Community) and hymns such as "Be Thou My Vision" and other, more modern songs based on celtic writing have become popular in contemporary worship.
May there always be work for your hands to do
(traditional Celtic blessing)
May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine upon your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near to you and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.