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The Tenth Edition of this collection was featured in Daniel Sheehan's Thanksgiving, 2006 article on grace.

Grace Before Meals: Mealtime Prayers

Eleventh Edition published October 11, 2008

Introduction

The first release of this document was a collection of mealtime prayers contributed by members of the Anglican Mailing List in 1997. Since its publication on the Web, many others have contributed as well. I have updated this page several times since then. (This is the Eleventh Edition.) If you have a prayer to add, please contact me. If you don't want your email to be published, just let me know and I'll honor your wishes.

Also feel free to add your comments at this page's quick topic. You'll also find contributions from some who chose not to send me email.

This was so successful that I started another project: if you have a bedtime prayer to add, I would like to hear from you.


Serving Him,

Tim Chambers

Sections

New since the Tenth Edition:

Also see:

 

Variations of Common Prayer

All of these can be traced to the 1928 and 1979 Episcopal books of common prayer, and the Roman Catholic church.

Give us grateful hearts, O Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Source: 1928 Book of Common Prayer)

Contributed by Andrew Wright <wrighar9@seraph1.sewanee.edu>

Bless O Lord this food {these gifts} to our use and us to thy loving service; and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

Contributed by Richard Konopka <RKonopka@aol.com>

Bless, O Lord, this food for thy use, and make us ever mindful of the wants and needs of others. Amen.

Contributed by Ed Bailey <bailey@hagar.ph.utexas.edu>

Bless O Lord, this food to our use,
And us to thy loving service;
And make us ever mindful of the needs of others,
For Jesus' sake. Amen.

Contributed by Alan K. Jackson <AlanJ32020@aol.com>

Bless this food to our use, and us to thy service, and make us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

For the bounty laid before us, may the Lord make us thankful, and ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

Contributed by Ellen Rains Harris <Ellen.Rains.Harris@ROLLINS.EDU>

Here is a prayer we use for dinner. We have passed it down from generation to generation to our children.

For what we are about to receive, may the lord make us truly thankful. And may we always be mindful of the needs of others, for Jesus sake, Amen.

Contributed by Bill Morley, Ontario, Canada <silverado-2@hotmail.com>

My devout Presbyterian mother always says this blessing before a meal:

Dear Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us to thy service. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Contrubuted by Dorothy B. Burch <scoobydot@compuserve.com>

Thank you, Lord, for this food which is set before us. May we use it to nourish our bodies, and thee to nourish our souls. Make us ever more mindful of the needs of others, and the needs of our planet. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Contributed by Thomas H. Harbold <harbolth@CTRVAX.VANDERBILT.EDU>

Thank you for your website. It helped me to remember the prayer my father said before many of our meals. It is a variation of some of those already listed.

Bless this food to our use, and us to thy service. Fill our hearts with grateful praise.
Amen.

Contributed by Clyde von Rosenberg <cvr678@msn.com>

My mother was raised Roman Catholic; my father Methodist. Like many such "mixed" couples, they found a home in the Episcopal church as a bridge between the Catholics and Protestants. Since I was a child, I have noticed that whenever I break bread with Roman Catholic families, they say the same prayer that my family has always said (thanks to my mother's Roman influence, no doubt).

Bless us, O Lord, for these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

Contributed by Tim Chambers <mealpryr11@timchambersusa.com>

Bless us, O Lord, for these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Help us to be mindful of all our blessings, and the needs of those who have less. Amen.

Contributed by Art Laurent <ALAURENT@NPR.ORG>

[As of 2005] My sons are now almost 12 and 14. When they were young, I introduced them to different prayers. As a matter of fact, collecting prayers to teach them was my key motivation for starting this project. They started with children's prayers (God is great, God our Father, and Johnny Appleseed). They are now Boy Scouts and give thanks at least once every summer camp with the Philmont Grace. I taught them what I learned from my parents (bless us, O Lord), and it's always a familiar comfort to pray that way together when our extended family gathers for a meal. However, after editing this collection for seven years, I have settled on this variation of a traditional Anglican prayer as my favorite. I encourage my sons also to pray spontaneously, but our family has made this our standard. Many complain that memorized prayers lose their meaning with repetition, but I experience a mystical, amplifying effect when all gathered around the table are praying in unison.

Dear Lord, thank you for this food.
Bless the hands that prepared it.
Bless it to our use and us to your service,
And make us ever mindful of the needs of others.
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

Contributed by Tim Chambers <mealpryr15@timchambersusa.com>

These are my childhood memories of my schools' graces.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

All creatures that on earth do dwell
Sing, to the Lord, with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell
Come ye before Him , and rejoice.

The Lord ye know is God, indeed,
Without our aid He did us make.
We are His flock, He doth us feed,
And, for His sheep He doth us take.

Amen

Contributed by Audrey G Schnell <paxinc@embarqmail.com>

At a Wedding

Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless this food and those who prepared it and those who will serve it. We also ask your blessing on [bride's name] and [bridegroom's name] who have come to you this day to unite themselves to you in love and sacrament, and upon their families. In Jesus' love.... Amen.

Contributed by Don Muench <muench@sjfc.edu>

Peter Dunbar <lionlamb@dircon.co.uk>, vicar of Upper Nidderdale in North Yorkshire (UK), composed this prayer:

For good food and those who prepare it, for good friends with whom to share it, we thank you Lord. Amen.

At weddings he adds: and for the love which [bride's name] and [bridegroom's name] have for each other, we thank you ....

[Also from Rev. Dunbar:]

A Methodist friend of mine (Eileen from Summerbridge) gave me this one:

There once was a cock and a hen,
Who gave lunch to a goose in a pen.
"Good Lord" said the goose,
"Bless this food for our use
And us to thy service. Amen."

The first part of this I wrote for my niece's wedding. The blessing I found on the net.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for the food we share tonight,
in celebration of [bride's name] and [bridegroom's name]'s marriage
We thank you for the love, guidance and support of our parents, family and friends
We thank you for making this day so enjoyable, and bless those that have worked hard to
make this day a success for [bride's name] and [bridegroom's name]
Thank you Lord for the freedom we have in our lives and the beautiful country we enjoy it in
Heavenly Father, we ask this blessing for the newly married couple,

(Jack)

May their love be firm, and may their dream of life together be a river between two shores--
by day bathed in sunlight, and by night illuminated from within.
May the heron carry news of them to the heavens, and the salmon bring the sea's blue grace.
May their twin thoughts spiral upward like leafy vines, like fiddle strings in the wind,
and be as noble as the Douglas fir.
May they never find themselves back to back without love pulling them around into each other's arms. Amen.

(Adapted from a verse by James Bertolino)

Contributed by B J Murphy <john.murphy@mainroads.wa.gov.au>

Good Lord - Bless these sinners as they eat their dinners. Amen

For Bacon, Eggs and Buttered Toast,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost

Another that I have used at weddings is

For sumptuous food and tender roast,
For the invitation from our gracious host;
For [bride's name] whom [bridegroom's name] loves the most;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost Amen

Contributed by Revd Peter Holloway <holloway@apollo.malleenet.net.au> (Anglican Diocese of Bendigo - Australia)

Other Sources

For food in a world where many walk in hunger;
For faith in a world where many walk in fear;
For friends in a world where many walk alone;
We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.

(Source: Huron Hunger Fund, Anglican Church of Canada)

Contributed by Bob Chandler, M.S.W. <bobgc@server.uwindsor.ca>

Let us thank God for food when others are hungry; for drink when others are thirsty; for friends when others are lonely. Amen.

Source: a friend in Seattle

Contributed by David Calhoun <bb248@scn.org>

German   English
Alles das wir haben,   All that we have,
Alles ist gegaben.   is all a gift.
Es kommt, O Gott, von dir,   It comes, O God, from you;
Wir danken dir dafuer.   We thank you for it.

Contributed by Irv Cutter <cutteri@texaco.com>

Let us lift our eyes toward the sanctuary of heaven and bless the Lord. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and brought forth this food from the earth. (+)Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first portion is the Jewish Berakah for meals. I use this form when there is nothing liturgically significant happening. I change "thy commandments" when appropriate to something like "sanctified us through the Advent of thy Son" or "this season of Lent" or "the preaching of St. Augustine".

Contributed by Rebecca A. Maloy <maloyra@UCUNIX.SAN.UC.EDU>

Rebecca A. Maloy wrote, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments..."

To keep everyone on their toes, once in a while you could say, "who hast sanctified us with thy mitzvot..."

:^)

Contributed by Scott R. Knitter <knitter@MSUALUM.MSU.EDU>

The family of one of my sisters-in-law (Methodist, but Wesley was an Anglican) has one (the "Wesley Grace," they call it, though whether or not it dates back to J.W. I don't know) which is sung to the tune of "Praise God from whom all blessings flow":

Be present at our table, Lord!
Be here and everywhere adored.
Your mercies bless, and grant that we
May feast in Paradise with Thee! Amen.

At least, I think I'm remembering the words correctly. This is usually sung holding hands around the table, followed by an extemporaneous prayer.

Contributed by Thomas H. Harbold <harbolth@CTRVAX.VANDERBILT.EDU>

James Elliott <SirJimCE1@aol.com>,Tallahassee, Florida, comments: "This is sung at our table to the tune of Tallis' Canon, aka The Eighth Tune by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), number 25 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 edition, and is also mentioned in Madeline L'Engle's books (I cannot remember if it's the Arm of the Starfish Series, or the Austin Family series or both!) as being sung at the table to this tune (which is where we got the idea, if I remember correctly!)"

The version I know reads in the third line "Thy creatures bless, and grant that we..." -- Michael Bishop <mbishop@innotts.co.uk>

The version John F. Burkhalter <bb640@scn.org> is familiar with is:

Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
Thy mercies bless and grant that we
May strengthened for thy service be.

Versicle and Response (Ps 145:16-17):

V: The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
R: and you give them their food in due season.
V: You open wide your hand
R: and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
Gloria Patri (Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.)

Contributed by Andrew Wright <wrighar9@seraph1.sewanee.edu>

We use a common prayer but we generally add a specific prayer request which is relevant to what is happening at that time in our lives. For instance, from May 1994 until March of 1996, my sister was battling cancer so we would ask the Lord to heal and comfort her. After she went home to be with the Lord a custody battle forced us to give up her two children who had been living with us for two years. My youngest son, who often is the one who prays, was devastated. So he prays every day for their return and their happiness. I've rambled long enough; here's the prayer.

Dear Lord, we thank you for this food, and we ask that you bless it and make it to nourish our bodies, and (please watch over Jon and Kristina).

or

Dear Lord, we thank you for this food, and we ask that you bless it and make it to nourish our bodies. Thank you for the time we have together, and bless the fellowship we share, and (please watch over Jon and Kristina).

I've found that the kids treat grace as an opportunity to talk about their concerns. It gives us all a chance to show how we can communicate with God.

Contributed by <Tom Pantazitom@jis.com>

8. GRACE BEFORE MEALS

The eyes of all wait upon you, O God,
And you give them their food in due season.

You open wide your hand
and fill all things living with plenteousness.

Bless, O Lord, these gifts to our use and us in your service;
relieve the needs of those in want and give us thankful hearts;
for Christ's sake. Amen.

Or:

Bless us, O Lord, who bless your holy name
and by this food, feed us for your holy service. Amen.

9. GRACE AFTER MEALS

All your works praise you, O God,
And your faithful servants bless you.

They make known the glory of your kingdom
And speak of your power.

For these and all God's gifts and graces,
let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Or:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits.

Blessed be God, eternal king,
for these and all his good gifts to us. Amen.

Source: Celebrating Common Prayer: The Pocket Version, p. 274, Copyright Society of St Francis, 1994)

Contributed by Simon Kershaw <Simon.Kershaw@SMALLWORLD.CO.UK>

We were racing through half-heard formulae until my husband, who was conducting a seminar on the psalms, suddenly suggested that we work our way through the psalter in six verse bits read before each meal. This has worked out wonderfully, although perhaps people will object that it is not really grace. Still, it often--even usually--starts out a dinner table conversation on matters theological. That is especially wonderful, I think, for my thirteen year old, who gets to ask questions in a general conversation instead of in a self-conscious teaching-the-young context. She gets to see when we are puzzled, in addition to witnessing the things we feel sure about. As for the psalms not always being consistant with the theme of gratitude for gifts given, I take some comfort from the thought that they were, as I understand it, used as worship--some of our best conversations have arisen from the issue of how such angry, sad, bloodthirsty poems fit with a loving, giving God. As we try to answer that, we learn a lot about gratitude for all things.

Contributed by Grant Franks <GHFRANKS@SHADOW.STJOHNS-NM.EDU>

I thought I'd pass along the grace my family always used. I don't know where it originated but we've said it before meals ever since I was a small boy. The grace we used seems more than likely a children's prayer. Do with it what you will. (For what it's worth, I've been an Episcopalian all my life.)

For all we eat, and all we wear,
For daily bread, and nightly care,
we thank thee heavenly Father. Amen.

Contributed by Kem White <dkw@aplcomm.jhuapl.edu>

A prayer passed through our family:

Our Dear Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this food. Feed our souls on the bread of life and help us to do our part in kind words and loving deeds. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

Contributed by Kathy Batman <kathyb@rconnect.com>

Blessed art Thou, Lord of all Creation. Through your goodness we have this gifts for our use, the fruit of your bounty and the work of human hands. As they become part of our substance may they give you honor and glory. Amen.

Contributed by Manuel Vazquez <manny@hal-pc.org>

Thank you for publishing this lovely collection of table graces, and please permit me to add another which was used in my family.

Gracious heavenly Father, accept our thanks for this food; pardon all our sins, and save us for Christ's sake. Amen.

Contributed by Laurence K. Wells <lwells@southeast.net>

This is a prayer my grandfather said before every meal.

Merciful Father pardon our sins and give us thankful hearts for these and all other blessings. Bless this food to our bodies and our bodies to your service. Amen.

Contributed by Chris Keister <ekeister@tampabay.rr.com>

I thought this was fairly standard. However I didn't see it [in the previous edition].

Bless this food O Lord, and ourselves to Thy loving service; that we may always continue in Thy faith and fear to the honor and glory of Thy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Contributed by Nathan Lahey <nlahey@msn.com>

Our family does not use the same grace at each meal and in fact, I try to encourage the children to take turns giving thanks their own way. One way that we do this is with a "squeeze prayer." Holding hands, each person prays, then squeezes the next hand when finished.

Contributed by Holly <kyra@agt.net> . (Also the first of many contributors of the next prayer.)

Come Lord Jesus be our guest, let this food to us be blessed. Amen.

Carole and Buddy Sokol <dsokol@startext.net> commented: "Our family uses [this] prayer at meal time. My children are 4, 6, and 8 so this is short, sweet and gets the point across;" <JRL2202@aol.com> calls it a "favorite mealtime prayer;" and Marilyn Gardner <MFGardner@aol.com> notes it is her family's "common prayer before meals (Lutheran, Missouri Synod)."

Jeff Culbreath <JeffEGCA@aol.com> added:

As former Lutherans and relatively new Anglicans, we occasionally use an old Lutheran table prayer that has been passed down through many generations:

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever. Amen.

To the (standard) grace my family said, I later learned a second verse.

Father, thank you for meat and bread.
May all the world be clothed and fed.

Contributed by Stacy Schulze <smschulze@gmail.com>

I was involved in hispanic work a few years ago. Here is a hispanic Lutheran table prayer.

Spanish   English
Cristo, pan de vida,   Christ, bread of life,
Ven y bendice esta comida. Amen   Come and bless this food. Amen

Contributed by James Harris <nicholas@bslnet.com>

I thought I'd add my family's grace -- said before meals in my (Anglican) family since before my 70something father was born. I thought it was pretty standard, but didn't see it in your listing.

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen

Contributed by Pat Wong <pat.wong@ec.gc.ca>

I don't know the origin of this, but it's universal on the rather large Methodist side of my family.

Our Heavenly Father, kind and good,
we thank Thee for our daily food.
We thank Thee for Thy love and care.
Be with us Lord, and hear our prayer.
Amen.

Contributed by David Hall <dchall@texas.net>

Lord Jesus be our holy guest,
our morning joy, our evening rest,
and with our daily bread impart,
your love and peace to every heart. Amen.

I have forgotten whence this has come, but everyone likes it when I use it.

Contributed by Christopher Heath <sparky@camtech.net.au>

I learned this when I was very young, and sometimes still say it today.

We thank Thee, Heavenly Provider,
for every earthly good:
for life and health and family,
and for our daily food. Amen.

Contributed by A Watkins <awatkins@pobox.com>

Here is a prayer from my mom's grandfather, who became a sincere Christian as he converted from Judaism before he married my great-grandmother. My mother remembers they lived in a grand old brick row-house. Our family has newspaper clippings of him singing Gospel songs as he drove streetcars on the cobbled streets of old Philadelphia. He was a member of the First Brethren Church of Philadelphia (the denomination was Grace Brethren).

Pop Pop's Prayer

We thank thee Lord, For this our food,
For life and health and all things good.
May manna to our souls be given:
The bread of life sent down from heaven.
These favors we ask in Christ's name. Amen.

Contributed by [name withheld by request]

This was a prayer my Grandmother taught me. She said it when she was just a little girl. She was raised Methodist, but later converted to Catholic, so I'm not sure which church to attribute it. She was born in 1899, so it was said in the early 1900's.

Come Lord Jesus be our guest, and let thy gifts to us be blessed. Like manna in the desert given, the Bread of life, sent down from Heaven.

In order to keep some of the old tradition alive within my family. We say two prayers before meals. The tradition Catholic prayer and the one my grandmother taught me.

Contributed by KM Sidebottom <pgstich@insightbb.com>

This is the grace spoken over meals of my Apostolic-Pentecostal family.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this food that we are about to receive for the nourishment of our bodies. Please cleanse it from impurities, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Contributed by <SBounty@aol.com>

My grandfather (a Methodist) said this prayer all his life and we did also as kids growing up:

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,
May this food by thee be blest,
May our souls by thee be fed,
Ever on the living Bread.

Contributed by <CateHH@aol.com>

This is one of the variations my grandfather used. He was a long time member of the Old German Baptist Church.

Most Holy, Righteous and everywhere present God,
our Father who art in Heaven,
we ask thy blessing upon this food.
Bless the hearts and hands that provide the same.
And when it is ours to pass from time to eternity,
own us and crown us heirs to Thy kingdom.
These favors and blessings we ask in the name of Christ,
our Great Redeemer. Amen.

Contributed by Steve Jones <joness@wpgate1.wpafb.af.mil>

I ... would like to share the blessing my grandmother (she's from Bermuda and Anglican) would say when she visited us during our childhood:

From thy hand cometh every good,
We thank thee for our daily food.
And with it Lord, thy blessing give,
And to thy glory may we live. Amen.

Contributed by Lisa Widowski <julia@pop.goodnet.com>

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy Gifts which we receive through Thy bountiful Goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen

Contributed by Paul C. Gutz <pgutz@dodgenet.com>

Here are four more prayers our family used to say at the table when I was a child:

For these and all Thy gifts of love,
We give Thee thanks and praise.
Look down upon us from above,
And bless us all our days. Amen.

Morning: Noon: Evening:
For our restful sleep at night,
For the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
Heavenly Father, we thank Thee. Amen
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks we render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou. Amen.
A parting hymn we sing,
Around Thy table, Lord.
Again our grateful tribute bring,
Our thanks to Thee accord. Amen.

Contributed by Larry Collister <larryc@cruzio.com>

There is a sort of table grace attributed to Oliver Cromwell:

Some have hunger, but no meat;
Some have meat, but no hunger;
I have both.
God be praised!

Contributed by Mel Johnson <Meljnsn@aol.com>

I "composed" this meal time prayer a few years ago...

Father, thank you for allowing us to share this meal together.
Send your Spirit to bless these gifts which you give us to sustain our
lives.
We thank you for them, and for ALL you blessings,
in the name of you Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Contributed by Michael Sclafani <King-cong@msn.com>

An old Boston brahmin prayer:

Some have food,
Some have none,
God bless the revolution!

Contributed by Rob Flynn <CN=Rob_Flynn/OU=CAM/O=Lotus@lotus.com>

This Grace is sung to the tune "Edelweiss" from "The Sound of Music":

Bless our friends,
Bless our food,
Come, O Lord and sit with us.

May our talk
Glow with peace;
Come with your love to surround us.

Friendship and love
May they bloom and glow,
Bloom and glow forever.

Bless our friends,
Bless our food,
Bless all mankind forever.

Contributed by Alan Lilley <aslilley@gil.com.au>

Scott A Deuel <deuel3@shawneelink.com> adds these variations:

I'm not sure how to communicate to you the tune to which this is sung, but it is the same for both prayers. They are taken from The Upper Room's Walk To Emmaus handbook.

Blessing before meals:

Bless our friends, bless our food.
Come, O Lord, and sit with us.
May our talk glow with peace,
Bring your love to surround us.

Friendship and peace, may it bloom
And grow, bloom and grow forever.
Bless our friends, bless our food,
Bless our dear land forever.

Thanks After Meals:

Hear our thanks, Father God.
Thanks, O Son, for being with us.
Thanks for words giving peace.
Urging love strong, sincere.

Friendship and peace, may it bloom
And grow, bloom and grow forever.
Thanks for friends, thanks for food,
Thanks for freedom, dear Father.

My grandfather's (1890-1992):

Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this food. Bless it to our strength and to thy glory.

Growing up:

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and bless what thou provided hast. (Sometimes I like the archaic syntax better!)

Recently from my mom:

Around this happy table may no evil ever come,
but health and peace and happiness make up our daily sum.

Contributed by r <ravennight@animalhouse.com>

Lord we thank thee for guiding, blessing, and protecting us.
Bless this food to its intended use.
Amen.

Contributed by Paul Goble <paulg@col.hp.com>

Here are a few prayers from a booklet called "Graces with a Celtic Flavor": I hope you can use these, we do, trying out different ones for different occasions, especially on the Celtic Saint's feast days (St. Patrick, St. Brigid, St. Columba, St. David, etc.):

The first set are well-known and in the public domain:

The Selkirk Grace by Robert Burns:

Contemporary   Traditional
Some have meat and cannot eat;
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we have meat and we can eat
Sae let the Lord be thankit!
  Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

A traditional Irish Grace:
May the blessing of the five loaves and the two fishes which God shared out among the five thousand be ours. May the King who did the sharing bless our sharing and our co-sharing.

Traditional Irish #2
Bless, O Lord, this food we are about to eat; and we pray You, O God, that it may be good for our body and soul; and if there be any poor creature hungry or thirsty walking along the road, send them into us that we can share the food with them, just as You share your gifts with all of us.

Anonymous Irish Grace:
May this food restore our strength, giving new energy to tired limbs, now thoughts to weary minds. May this drink restore our souls, giving new vision to dry spirits, new warmth to cold hearts. And once refreshed, may we give new pleasure to You, who gives us all.

From the Carmina Gadelica collected by Alexander Carmichael, late 1800's:
Give us O God of the nourishing meal,
well-being to the body, the frame of the soul.
Give us O God of the honey-sweet milk,
the sap and the savor of the fragrant farms.

The second set may have been written especially for the pamphlet by Ray Simpson, of the Order of Aidan and Hilda, in England, but they were not credited as such:

God in our waking, God in our speaking;
God in our cooking, God in our eating;
God in our playing, God in our digesting;
God in our working, God in our Resting

In a world where so many are hungry,
may we eat this food with humble hearts;
in a world where so many are lonely,
May we share this friendship with joyful hearts.

And finally,

May this food so fresh and fragrant,
call forth reverence for You in our souls.
As you give this strength to our perishable limbs,
So give us grace for our immortal lives.

Contributed by James Elliott <SirJimCE1@aol.com>,Tallahassee, Florida

Lynette Jackson <Lynette.JACKSON@lucasvarity.com> contributed the traditional version of the Selkirk Grace. She adds, "This is used by my family (and many other Scots I suspect) and is the traditional grace for 'Burns Night' where haggis, neaps and tattis are consumed along with much whiskey!"

To the tune of "Are you sleeping, Brother John". Can also be found on Steven Curtis Chapman's album "Heaven in the real world" . The song's name is "You're stil listening."

God our Father God our Father
Once again Once again
We bow our heads and thank You
Bow our heads and thank You
A-ah-men A-ah-men

Contributed by [name withheld by request]

This is not a grace for before meals, but one for fastdays, and when you are going to miss a meal as part of a fast (especially if the cost of the meal is being set aside for hunger relief):

Lord,
May the hunger of our flesh help feed our brothers and our sisters
May the hunger of our souls draw us to your feast.
Amen

Contributed by Alice Fulton <Alice-fulton@uiowa.edu>

If I waste not, I've learned one thing. Let not one crumb fall off my plate. For you will bless the foods I distaste; and you'll teach me to be thankful as I partake.

Contributed by Mel and Judy <mrjau@valkyrie.net>

Here is our family's mealtime prayer:

For the blessings you've bestowed upon this home and on this family,
For all the days we've had together and all the days to come,
For the joys and sorrows that bind us ever closer,
For the trials we've overcome,
And for teaching us that we can do no great things,
Only small things with great love,
Lord, we thank you.

Contributed by Gerald Donnelly <donnelly@greensboro.com>, Greensboro, NC

Here is a sectarian grace we have used in Boy Scouts for as long as I can remember, named for and perhaps originating from the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico:

Philmont Grace
For food, for raiment,
For life, for opportunity,
For friendship and fellowship . . .
We thank Thee, O Lord.

Contributed by Bill Hansen <HansenW@ftknox5-emh3.army.mil>, Former Scoutmaster

Lord, bless this food to our bodies, and, in turn, cause us to be a blessing to the Body of Christ.

Contributed by Alan Willcox <awillcox@iname.com>

This is a prayer we have used for quite some time. I think it says it all!

Our Father in Heaven,
For this meal you have given
We want to say thank you from our hearts.
Bless the ones who prepared it
And Lord as we share it
Will you stay with us
And be our guest of Honor.

Contributed by Brent and Jan Hays <jbandco@pld.com>, JB and Company

My great-grandfather John Adams Barnes, a devout Methodist, is reputed to have said the following grace. I did not see it reflected in the ones listed and it has meant quite a bit to our family as it has been passed down through the generations. It is as follows:

O Lord, we pray thy blessings, upon this food and upon our souls. Guide us through life and save us through Christ. Amen.

Contributed by Priscilla Fenton Hament <PHament@aol.com>

A sung grace (the tune seems to be unique to the grace), this was interesting in a bigger group because the tune works as a round.

Glory to the Lord we sing
All creation praise God's name
Raise your voices in thanksgiving
Alleluia

Contributed by Stacy Schulze <smschulze@gmail.com>

I came across you page when searching for the origin of "an Old English Table Prayer." I do not know where I found this, as I scribbled it down some time ago and now cannot remember. It is, however, exquisite.

O you who clothe the lilies of the field, and feed the birds of the air, who leads the sheep to pasture and the hart to the water's side, who has multiplied the loaves and fishes and converted the water to wine, do come to our table as giver and guest, to dine.

Contributed by Lenna Smith <zmithpxl@bigpond.net.au

I learned this grace while I was head of the Diocesan Altar Guild Sewing Room of the Episcopal Diocese of San Francisco. I use it frequently and people always comment on it favorably. I think I learned it at the Episcopal Convent of St. John in New Jersey.

O Lord, who clothes the lilies
And feeds the birds of the sky,
Who leads the lambs to pasture
And the deer to the waterside,
Who has multiplied loaves and fishes
And converted water to wine,
O Lord, come to our table,
As guest and giver, to dine. Amen.

Contributed by Evelyn

For my 26 years, my family has said this at every meal that we sit down together:

Bless this food and everyone here, in Jesus' Name, AMEN.

My Aunt and Uncle have this version:

Bless this food, and those we hold dear, in Jesus' Name, AMEN.

Contributed by Skip Becker <skiplowflyin@hotmail.com>

When I was at university this grace was said every day in hall before dinner. (Although the college had a Christian background it was neither RC nor Anglican.) I got into trouble when I said it in English when it was my last turn before I left college.

Latin   English
Omnipotens Deus, clementissime Pater, omnis boni fons, in donis tuis gaudentes, nomen tuum magnificamus, per Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.   Almighty God, most merciful Father, source of everything good, as we rejoice in your gifts we praise your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Contributed by Paul Tait <paultait36@yahoo.co.uk>

Thank you Lord for what we've had
If there had of been more we would have been glad
But as we've had enough, we won't be sad

Contributed by Bob Bannister <bb@imanage.org.uk>

This is a prayer I got recently from my mother. I use it at school with my classes:

Lord, bless this food and grant that we
May thankful for thy mercies be.
Teach us to know by whom we're fed;
Bless us with Christ, the living bread.

Contributed by Linda Geerts <lhgeerts@hotmail.com>

This is one I made up for an annual dinner on November 11th [2006]

Dear Lord
Protect our sailors while at sea
Watch over them wherever they be
Protect our soldiers while at war
We pray for peace for evermore
Let us remember the wars that passed
Where lives were lost for peace to last
Now while we eat and have our fun
We spare a thought for those with none

Contributed by Arthur Manning <mannings@localdial.com>

Let us pause before we eat
and think about the ones in need
of food and shelter and of love,
please bless us all dear God above.
Amen.

Contributed by Bob Rode <old1@mac.com>

At a funeral or memorial service meal (attributed to General Patton):

Let us not mourn the departed, but rather thank God that such men/women lived.

Contributed by Peter Heaver <Plhifa@aol.com>

I used this for a retired teachers meal [in 2006] in Midland.

God of Love,
We pray that we may be truly grateful for the many, many blessings we enjoy this day.
The air we breathe, the fresh water to quench our thirst, the beauty of this world where we live.
In the world around us there are many who are hungry, some without homes,
suffering health problems, experiencing war, lonely and without direction.
We pray for your guidance and protection for those people who are giving of their time and
money to help these hurting people.
We pray for our service men and women who are giving their time and even their lives
serving their county working to make a better place in your world for thousands of people.
We ask for protection for us and our country from terrorists.
Guide the world's leaders toward peace.
We ask your blessing on the food that has been prepared for us.
Thank you for the hands that have prepared it.
Help us to live a life of cheerfulness and have faith in all that is good.
May we be worthy of your love.
Amen

Contributed by Gerald Hath, retired teacher <Hathgerry80@aol.com>

When I was working in the Cook Islands, this grace was said before lunch. The food was always set out on long tables under the palm trees and was a wonderful meal of fish, home baked breads and local fruit. There would be a short pause at the end of grace, and then everyone burst out laughing and went to the tables.

Oh dear Lord, we thank you for the magnificent feast you have provided and for the beautiful cooks who have put it here.
For the sea, for the trees, for the gardens, we thank you.
Please help us not to eat like pigs and to remember people who do not have this food and are hungry.
Amen

Contributed by Robin Peirce, Marton, New Zealand <rrpeirce@inspire.net.nz>

We sang the hymn:

Thank you Lord for food we eat (repeat 3 times)
Right where we are

Alleluia, Praise the Lord (repeat 3 times)
Right where we are.

Contributed by Eileen Thompson <etcalling@btinternet.com>

This is a prayer that we used to sing at camp. Sorry that I don't know the name of tune, but I have heard the tune in the Episcopal Hymnal. [I think it's the doxology tune -- "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." - ed.]

For food and health and happy days
receive our gratitude and praise
In serving others Lord may we
Repay our dept of love to thee
Amen

Contributed by Howland Wilson <handhwilson@hotmail.com>

Children's Prayers

Rub a dub dub; thanks for the grub; yeaaa God!

Contributed by Andrew Wright <wrighar9@seraph1.sewanee.edu>

Bless, O Lord, this food to our use and us to thy service, and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

We were already tempted, after an especially difficult day for my wife and five-year old daughter, to change it to "...ever mindful of the needs of mothers."

Contributed by Steve Ketcham <Steve_Ketcham@vos.stratus.com>

All through my childhood, my family used a brief grace with hand motions, as follows:

God bless us   (hands on head)
God bless the food   (hands aroud plate)
Amen   (hands folded)

It has the advantage of being able to hold the attention of a hungry, antsy 3-year-old for its duration, without the irreverence of the "Yaaay God!" types of graces.

We also had a sung one (done holding hands), to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

I've always preferred participatory graces before meals to fold-your-hands-and-listen graces, although my high school youth group's tradition was pleasant. We always had dinner at our youth group meetings (brought by one or another member), and before we ate we would stand in a circle and the leaders would ask someone to give the blessing; what resulted was usually a short extemporaneous prayer to which we could all give a heartfelt "Amen".

Contributed by Rachel Meredith Kadel <rkadel@HUSC.HARVARD.EDU>

My five-year-old loves to belt out:

The Lord is good to me
and so I thank the Lord
for giving me the things I need
the sun and the rain and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.
Johnny Appleseed-Amen!

Contributed by Dave Hazen <Dave.Hazen@Dal.Ca>

I just learned the second verse of the well-known children's prayer from my wife's niece:

God is great, God is good.
Let us thank him for our food.
By his hands, we are fed.
Let us thank him for our bread.
Amen.

Contributed by Tim Chambers <mealpryr12@timchambersusa.com>

Thomas H. Harbold <harbolth@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu> noted this variation to the second verse:

... By his hands we all are fed,
Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.

Kirk Delzell <poolpal@netins.net> contributed this variation:

... Now we thank him for our food.
Gonna thank him morning and night
We gonna thank our God
because he is out of sight.

Tim Chambers <mealpryr13@timchambersusa.com> adds, My son also learned this at day care as a prelude to "God is great…" Kids do the actions specified by the words ("them" refers to hands):

Open shut them, open shut them,
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open shut them, open shut them,
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

God is Grace, God is Good.
Let us thank him for this food. Amen.

That's what we used to say in Pre-school. -- Perfect12c@aol.com

Here's another one my son brought home from day care.

(Sung to the tune of Are You Sleeping, Brother John?)

God our Father, God our Father,
We thank you, we thank you,
For our many blessings, for our many blessings,
A-ah-men, A-ah-men.

Contributed by Tim Chambers <mealpryr14@timchambersusa.com>

The Edmondson family has a search on for the shortest grace:

All time winner Two runners up
Ta, Pa. Amen. Good food,
Good meat,
Good Lord,
Let's eat. Amen.
  Lord,
Bless this bunch
As they munch
Their lunch. Amen.

Contributed by Rick Edmondson <rick@hunter.co.uk>

[I think the following variation has a more pleasing meter. - ed.]

I once heard a lovely, short and sweet, grace said by a former Lord Mayor of London one lunchtime:

Bless the bunch that munch this lunch.

Contributed by Fiona Donovan <donovan_fiona@hotmail.com>

Family legend has it that when my grandfather was a cadet at The Royal Military Academy at Woolwich (before the 1914-18 war) he was put on a charge for saying the grace as if he was giving a parade ground order. Their grace was two words only:

Thank God

RMA Woolwich has since closed and been amalgamated with Sandhurst; I don't know what their tradition is.

Contributed by Anthony Birch <adjbirch@lineone.net>

My Father went to Shrewsbury School where his Housemaster, Mr. Chance, had what I believe is the shortest grace on record.

"Benedictus, benedicat," he'd say, and if in a hurry, "Benedictus benedicat, now we're off!"

Thank you for much inspiration.

Contributed by Georgina Protheroe-Beynon <rataplan@btinternet.com>

In German, from grandparents on Dad's side (Swiss Volhynian Mennonite):

Abba
Vater
Himmel
Amen.

Minimalist, yes?

Thanks again- sending these to you brought back long-forgotten memories.

Contributed by r <ravennight@animalhouse.com>

Greetings from South Australia! Our Kids Club has a favourite grace you might like to publish. I have no idea from where it originated however. It was taught to me by a friend.

To the tune of the Batman theme song:
Thank you for the dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, Amen!

Must be exactly 10 'dinners'!

Contributed by Jan Trengrove <jan@capri.net.au>

A simple childrens prayer before all meals, even the youngest will get involved:

Now I fold my hands and say
Thank you God for my supper today

(Insert meal of choice in place of supper)

Contributed by zeb <jsm1@buffnet.net>

My daughter learned this prayer at daycare when she was four...and now at age six. It is still her favorite.

Thank you, God, for loving me.
Thank you for my family.
Help me to learn more each day
To be kind at work and play.
Amen.

Contributed by <Ly1sys@aol.com>

We started one of our nieces out at a very young age with this short little table grace that would be easy to remember and allow her to participate.

Thank you Jesus for this food. Amen

This soon spread for use with all the children in the family. As they got older, more would be added. The standard has become

Thank you Jesus for this food and for this time together.

with more added as a person or situation dictated (child or adult)

Contributed by David and Jackie Parker <dandjparker@neo.rr.com>

My little son made this prayer and prays it everyday at dinner, sometimes he extends it with things that happened that day.

Thank you Lord Jesus for this food, and for Your love and mercy.
Thank You that you were with us today.
We love You very much and are happy because You are so close. Amen.

Contributed by Sam Mulock Houwer <sam@mulock.myweb.nl>

One of the sung graces I grew up with (Lutheran--eventually ELCA) went to the turne that Big Ben chimes:

Hark to the chimes
Come bow your heads
O Lord, we thank thee
For daily bread
Amen
(Note: the amen is the sound of the clock striking the hour.)

Contributed by Stacy Schulze <smschulze@gmail.com>

Sing this one to the tune of the Addams Family theme song:

Do-do-do-do (snap fingers twice), do-do-do-do (snap, snap)
Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do (snap, snap)
We thank You for our food, Lord,
And all the things You do, Lord.
We thank You for our food, Lord, and all our family.
Do-do-do-do (snap, snap), do do do do (snap, snap)
Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do -- A-MEN!

Contributed by Berta <joyful-noise@verizon.net>

Here's a prayer that I learned and have taught my children before they ate any meal.

God our Father, Lord and Saviour
Thank you for your love and favor
Bless this food and drink we pray
And all who shares with us today
Amen

Contributed by April E. <poobooxie3@yahoo.com>

This grace was written in the late 70's at the Saskatchewan Anglican Youth summer camp. It is sung to the tune of "God Save the Queen." (Somewhat irreverent, but everyone knows it!)

Thank you for toast and jam,
Thank you for eggs and ham,
We thank you, Lord (da, da, da, da)
Thank you for beans and spam,
Thank you for all I am,
Thanking you best we can,
We thank you, Lord.

Contributed by Derrick Smith <kdsconsult@redshift.bc.ca>

Our family learned a breakfast prayer from the "Wee Sing" tapes. I think it's called "I'm Thankful" from the "More Bible Songs" tape. We sing it every morning - even the 18 month old loves it.

When I get up, I'm thankful for a brand-new day.
When I get dressed, I'm thankful I can run and play.
When I sit down to eat, I'm thankful for my food.
And most of all, I'm thankful for a God who is so good.
Amen.

Contributed by Leah Smith, Seattle, WA <leah@sphericalcow.net>

This is a little prayer we say or kinda sing at dinner time that's even easy for the kids to do.

Lord we thank you, Lord we thank you
For our food, For our food,
And your many blessings, And your many blessings
A-ah-men A-ah-men

Contributed by Ronald Love <thetazster29@gmail.com>

One of my wife's friends came up with a prayer before a meal that is sung in tune of the theme from the Superman movie:

Thank you, God, for giving us food.
Thank you, God, for giving us food.
The food that we eat,
The friends that we meet.
Thank you. God, for giving us food.

Contributed by Carl Diers, Norwich, NY <CDiers@smlny.com>

I loved your prayer site and want to contribute one that a child in my preschool taught me. It's called The Superman Prayer because you sing it to the tune from Superman cartoons.

Thank you Lord...for giving us food
Thank you Lord...for giving us food
For the food we eat
For the friends we meet
Thank you Lord...for giving us food!

Contributed by DpOhara <DpOhara@aol.com>

Not exactly a grace, but often used as such.

Here, a little child, I stand Heaving up my either hand
For a benison to fall On our hearth, and on us all.
Cold as puddocks [frogs] though they be,
Yet I lift them up to thee.

Contributed by Audrey G Schnell <paxinc@embarqmail.com>

First the lips, then the tongue. Watch out stomach, here it comes.

Contributed by Jay in Little Rock, AR <hershel.j.dollar@usps.gov>

I have just come across your site and added a few from our side of the family.

My son's favourite at primary school (sung):

For my dinner, for my dinner
And the blue skies, and the blue skies
Oh Lord, Oh Lord
We thank you, we thank you.
(this is sung 3 times in a round)

Another which had some actions which my daughter brought home from school was:

Hands together eyes closed
For every cup and plateful
Please make us truly grateful
Forgive us when we're wasteful
For we're all God's family.

Open eyes and turn to partner and with hands like pat a cake pat a cake bakers man, say:
Dar dar dumb, dar dar dumb, dar dar dumb (clap hands)

The brownies have added a bit to this favourite:

Thank you for the world so sweet
Ho Hum
Thank you for the food we eat
Yum Yum (rub hands on belly)
Thank you for the birds that sing
aling aling (hands in air index finger going aling aling)
Thank you God for everything.

Contributed by Eileen Thompson <etcalling@btinternet.com>

Eleventh Edition, published on the World Wide Web October 11th, 2008. Email updated April 07, 2013.
Compilation Copyright 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2008 Tim Chambers <mealpryr8@timchambersusa.com> 1E4AF729D5CEFFD0.

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