Hymn text by William W. Phelps, 1792-1872. View the full text of this hymn.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

The rest spoken of here is not something we have to wait for until we arrive in heaven. Those who work diligently to serve the Lord may have rest in this life as well.

At the end of a long day, full of work and worry, it’s nice to be able to let go of concerns and take a break. Today’s hymn is meant to help us with that. The words serve to calm our spirits and prepare us for sleep, kind of like a lullaby for adults.

Sometimes, especially when we’ve had a particularly trying day, it can be hard to settle our minds. In these verses we are reminded to be grateful “for grace and gifts / Renewed in latter days.” As we remember the gifts of the gospel, and to be thankful for them, peace comes to us. We can give our troubles to the Lord, even if it’s just long enough to get a good night’s rest.

While this may seem like a simple interpretation, I really believe that this hymn is meant to have a simple meaning. Let’s work hard and do all that we can during the day, but let us allow ourselves to rest as well, and thank Heavenly Father for the opportunity to do so.

As the last verse says,

Oh, may we sleep and wake in joy,

While life with us remains,

And then go home beyond the tomb,

Where peace forever reigns.

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