Table Graces

I’d like to start an open thread on prayer before meals (and after meals, too, if that is your custom).

What are your favorite table graces? For those who pray spontaneously, what themes do you normally include? For those who use a fixed form of words, which prayer do you love the best?

Does anybody sing table graces? Will a diversity of religions among those at your table for Thanksgiving change the way you pray? Any prayers especially loved by children?

I look forward to reading your responses. A blessed and prayerful Thanksgiving to all our readers, in the US and abroad, who will celebrate this holiday. (Canadians already celebrated this one; belated good wishes to you too!)

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23 comments

  1. For good or ill, we tend to have a small table. I am the natural prayer in the family, so it is whatever the Holy Spirit sends to my heart and mouth! We have had a number of challenges and losses, very little by what some have suffered, but for a small family like ours, it has been hard. Thus we are grateful to be together, few in number but large in heart!

    Blessings to you one and all. It is a great gift to be able to read and converse with you here.

  2. I think brief and concise grace is important if we’ve all got food steaming in front of us. I admit to being distracted, during long graces, by the thought that Our Lord probably wants us to experience the food he’s given while it’s at its best and hottest. 🙂 As long as we’ve expressed our thanks.

    One that I have never liked is a traditional Anglican one: “For what we are about to receive, may the good Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.” Seems to keep the actual expression of thanks, and even the utterance of an actual prayer, at arm’s length. But as an Anglican, I do hear (and join in offering) that one occasionally.

  3. My Favourite is:
    All things bright and beautiful,
    all creatures great and small,
    tasty and delicious, the Lord God made them all.
    So, we give thanks for what the Lord god sets before us this day.
    through Christ our Lord.

    Alternately, if the offering looks rather sparse:
    We thank you Lord, for all your gifts
    and especially for these – the very least of your mercies.
    Through Christ our Lord.

  4. At the Abri St Michel we used to sing:
    « Bénissez-nous, Seigneur, bénissez ce repas, ceux qui l’ont préparé, et procurez du pain à ceux qui n’en ont pas ! Ainsi soit-il ! »
    Sadly, with the caféteria system that seems to have gone. Quite apart from the more important spiritual purpose it served to bind the members of HNDL as a confraternity. I lament the change whilst appreciating why it was unavoidable.

  5. “For every mouth and plateful,
    Lord, make us truly grateful”

    “Bless this bunch
    as they munch
    their lunch”

    “Good God!
    Good food!
    Let’s eat!”

    “Béni soit Dieu!” (the shortest on record?)

    My favorite sung grace (unashamedly from my Ritual Moments collection, pub. GIA):

    “God of all creation, you give us this food.
    Bless those who prepared it,
    and those who will share it,
    and those who have none”

    with an optional second verse for all the major seasons and also other occasions, including bereavement.

    Happy Thankgiving, everyone!

  6. From my Episcopalian high school: “Lord, bless this food to our use and ourselves to your service, and keep us ever-mindful of the needs of others. In Christ’s name we ask this, Amen.”

    Short, sweet, and covers all the important points!

  7. I was asked at the last minute to pray the Benediction as well as a blessing for the reception food at our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Tuesday night, at which I preached. This year it was at the neighboring United Methodist Church, next year at the Jewish Temple and the following year in our parish and the pastors/rabbi rotate preaching but don’t preach in their own church/temple. So caught a bit off guard, I fell back to my normal spontaneous blessing of food for Interfaith gatherings:

    “Blessed are you Lord God of all Creation for through your goodness we have the food and drink we share, which earth has given and human hands have made. May these become for us a sign of loving fellowship in your presence. Continue to unite us in your love. Amen.” or something like that.

  8. I grew up with the most quintessential of Midwestern Lutheran graces: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts for us be blessed.”

    When things are spontaneous, there’s always something about blessing the people who made the food, blessing the food for us, thanking God for fellowship, and so on.

    I prefer my house’s new grace, adapted from the Benedictine Sisters in St. Joseph: “May those who are hungry have bread to eat. May those who have bread to eat have a hunger for justice.”

  9. Growing up, my family tended to use the following two:

    “God is great, God is good; let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

    “Bless us, O Lord, and these, thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

    At more recent family dinners (with grandchildren present) this one is also used: “Thank you for the food before us, thank you for the love between us, and all of our many blessings. Amen.”

    When my brother (a priest) says the blessing at family meals, the prayer tends to be a bit more geared toward the occasion at hand (e.g. an anniversary, Thanksgiving) and includes petitions for absent family members, for those who prepared the food, and for those who go without.

    Here’s a technical question… what is the proper name for the pre-meal prayer? Is it a “blessing” or is it a “grace” (i.e. “thanksgiving”)? The “Bless us, O Lord…” prayer is clearly one of blessing, and is paired with a post-meal prayer that expresses thanksgiving: “We give thee thanks, almighty God…”

  10. “Give us truly thankful hearts, our Father, for this food and for all your blessings and mercies. Always keep us mindful of the poor and the needs of others, and grant us hearts and wills to help them even as we help ourselves. Amen!”

  11. I am overly fond of this, from the Anglican tradition:

    V. The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord:
    R. And thou givest them their meat in due season.
    V. Thou openest thy hand:
    R. And fillest all things living with plenteousness.
    Let us pray:
    Bless us, O Lord, and these gifts which of thy bounty we are about to recieve. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

    And, after the meal:
    For these and all his mercies, may the Lord’s Name be praised.

    And, I DO like Fr Allan’s inter-faith prayer at no. 8, above!

  12. My favorite is the old “Bless us, O Lord, and these, thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” It’s the one I grew up hearing, always followed up with spontaneous prayers “and thank You for…”

  13. My favorite Thanksgiving grace is the final stanza from the hymn “We plow the fields, and scatter”. Many here might remember the song “All Good Gifts” from Godspell, which is loosely based on this hymn. Jane Montgomery Campbell translated the original German Wir pflügen und wir streuen written by Matthias Claudius (late 18th c.)

    We thank thee, then, O Father,
    for all things bright and good,
    the seed time and the harvest,
    our life, our health, and food;
    no gifts have we to offer,
    for all thy love imparts,
    and, what thou most desirest,
    our humble, thankful hearts.

    Happy, blessed Thanksgiving all!

  14. In 8th grade I appeared in a local production of “OLIVER!” so “For what we are about to recieve may the Lord make us truly thankful” (Mr. Bumble in the workhouse) is a favorite.
    Mama liked two funnies: “Good bread, good meat, good gosh, let’s eat!” and “Grace in the kitchen, grace in the hall, please dear grace, don’t eat all!”

  15. My uncle’s prayer on Thursday was as follows:
    Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Who prays the fastest eats the most.

    We’re discussing proper sanctions.

  16. We say, “Bless us, O Lord, with these, thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord.” Then we ask a saint, if there is a feast-day that day, to pray for us. When I was single and taught at a Lutheran school, I sometimes was invited to sit at table with the pastor and his family. Their grace was singing “Praise God from whom All Blessings Flow.” Sometimes, when my family and I are in a hurry, which isn’t often, we may pray, “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub.”

  17. As the chair of a Women’s Connection Group I often give the prayer for the meal. I would write them out the day before to make sure I thanked everyone including God. I always finished with bless this food to our use and us to they service. Last week I came across a wonderful blessing on a Lutheran website. It goes like this
    “Lord, we thank You for the food before us, the friends beside us, the love between us; And Your Presence among us. Amen.” Perfect for a large group setting.

  18. I learned this grace at an Episcopalian convent in New Jersey while at a workshop on ecclesiastical embroidery.

    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

  19. A dear friend of mine introduced our men’s group to this grace at our annual week-end retreat:
    Come and dine the Master calleth,
    Come and dine.
    You may eat at Jesus’ table all the time.
    He who fed the multitudes
    Turned the water into wine
    To the hungry now He calleth
    “Come and dine “

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