Saying Grace

From the my earliest memory, we have said grace at the table before our family dinners. It’s a simple blessing, our Catholic grace. I think growing up we kids didn’t think much about it, just that it was one of those things we had to do before we could eat. But ritual has a way of embedding ideas into one’s consciousness over time, and now when I say grace, either with my family, with friends, or even alone, I am reminded of how lucky I am, we are, to be alive, thinking and breathing, and how blessed we are to have this food before us.

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

That’s our grace. Simple isn’t it? Yet whenever I hear it or say it, it means so much more. I feel my family, alive or long passed, with me at the table or in a city far away. For this one simple prayer ties us together through time and distance.

I’m curious to learn of other traditions for saying a mealtime blessing. It wasn’t until I left home for college that I discovered that depending on one’s background, people say different prayers at mealtime, and some (maybe most?) none at all. A meal blessing doesn’t have to be tied to a religion. People in Japan say an expression of gratitude before every meal. Itadakimasu, which means “I humbly accept” is said, head bowed, before every meal, not just dinner.

My friends Suzanne and David, and their children Clara, Danny, and Audrey, hold hands and either say “Blessings on the meal” or they sing “Evening is here, the board is spread, thanks be to God, who gives us bread.” I get the feeling that the kids are sometimes embarrassed to sing their blessing, especially with guests, but personally I love it.

Do you have a tradition of saying a blessing before a meal? If so, would you please share it with us? Do you hold hands (we don’t)? Does one person lead grace, or do people take turns? Do you recite a standard blessing, or do you improvise?

Today, as I write this, it is Thanksgiving, our one day of the year dedicated to appreciation for all we have. Thank you for reading this site, for trying out the recipes we post, for all of your feedback and suggestions. You are the reason I do this. Happy Thanksgiving! ~Elise

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Showing 4 of 96 Comments

  • Joel T Keys

    “Lord, some people have food and no friends, and some people have friends and no food. We are thankful that at this table today we have both. Amen.”

  • Joel W

    (Sung, hands held)

    We thank thee Lord, for Jesus Christ,
    and for the blood He shed,
    we thank thee for, His risen life,
    and for our daily bread. Amen.

  • Neal Anderson

    I grew up in Brockton Mass. Our swedish baptist prayer sounded something like this:

    sehr a gud a signamonen namen tack

    anyone know what the correct spelling and what it means? All the ancestors are gone now.

  • Noreen

    Re grace in SWEDISH: if anyone has this prayer in Swedish or English, please post it. (My father learned it from his mother but his recitation was by rote, as he did not speak Swedish.)

    Tak & a good Thanksgiving to you all, now and always.

  • Anonymous

    Great comments from everyone! Our tradition (in keeping with Matthew 6:7,8 -the verses right before the model prayer known as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or ‘Our Father’) is for the head of the family to say a spontaneous, though respectful and well-thought-out prayer or grace before each meal, addressing it in God’s name (Psalm 83:18). Usually keeps everyone’s focus on gratefulness, but… to share a family story: Once, when my sister and I made a casserole out of the week’s leftovers [a hideous rectangular thing with burnt mushrooms on top], Dad got about half-way thru grace, and… he tried to use the phrase ‘thank you for the fine food’ but he kept cracking up! After 3 or 4 attempts he said that if we survived dinner, he’d pray afterwards! Well, that casserole should have lasted us two days, but it was so good we gobbled it all up! To this day, we laugh every time we think of the “Oh, God” casserole!

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