a prosperous journey

[Middle English god speid, from the phrase God spede you God prosper you.]

First Known Use: 15th century

Brought to its lowest lifeless form, Godspeed means goodbye. But it means so much more than that. It has the nostalgia of an adieu, the romance of an au revoir, the heartiness of an ave, the slight apprehension of a bon voyage, and the longing left over from farewell.

godspeed (interj.) also God speed, by late 14c., “(I wish that) God (may) grant you success,” from God + speed (v.) in its old sense of “prosper, grow rich, succeed.” Specifically as a salutation by mid-15c. Also in Middle English as an adverb, “quickly, speedily” (early 14c.); the then-identically spelled God and good seem to be mixed up in this word. From late 13c. as a surname. He may bidde god me spede is found in a text from c. 1300.

‘Godspeed, John Glenn’

When John Glenn lifted off in the space capsule Friendship 7 in February 1962, making the first U.S. manned orbital flight, a voice from mission control spoke the same words that were used in NASA’s announcement of his death: “Godspeed, John Glenn.” Godspeed, meaning “a prosperous journey,” comes from the Middle English phrase God spede you (“God prosper you”). It was originally used to wish success to someone, like saying, “May you prosper.” These days it’s more often used to express hopes for a safe trip. It’s a formal and old-fashioned word that makes it particularly appropriate for official voyages with a sense of risk. And even though the speed in Godspeed doesn’t mean “the rate at which something moves,” we also suspect that it feels right for a space vehicle that can travel around 17,000 miles per hour.

And beside being …

… it is favoured among artists for naming their …

… and, most particularly … songs (too many to mention here).

And to Leighton add Boughton:

Godspeed! Pilgrims setting out for Canterbury, George Henry Boughton (1874) [Image: Public Domain]
Add also the Queensland Sugar Industry archway.

The what?

The Queensland Sugar Industry archway.

English: God Speed from the Sugar Industry, 1954 Official vehicles drive under the archway constructed by the Queensland Sugar Industry. Sugar cane, an image of a sugar refinery and royal symbols decorate the sides of the arch. 1 March 1954 [Image: Public Domain]
[Ed: We are yet to reconcile with the Queensland Sugar Industry archway motivation. More Blackadder than Baldrick is as complimentary as we can get. Readers with arbitrage on the matter should proffer their position.

Wifey has an important meeting today, she leaves for work and you say … “Godspeed”.  Aunt Bethel’s flight to the moon later that day, wish her “Godspeed”. Hubby’s list of items to grab from the mart after work … good luck with that.

Godspeed: goodbye ready-wrapped in a hug, ordained with a providential kiss.


2 John (KJV)

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

Featured Image

English: John Glenn looks into a celestial training device in preparation for his Mercury-Atlas orbital launch in February 1962 [Image: Public Domain]



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