Saying Grace

On the practice of saying a blessing before a meal.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 101 Comments

  • Hugh Gruver

    A prayer we always said with our children even before they could speak. It goes like this. Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food to us be blessed. Amen Our oldest daughter will be 51 at the end of this month and remembers our blessing when she was little. Our grandchildren now carry on the tradition.

  • karen hartman

    Looking for a grace for a veterans retirement party

  • 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.”

  • Arsie

    I remember saying that grace a lot as a child. Now, we have a different one that was taught to us by my aunt and uncle and their family, it was so nice that we co-opted it. ;)

    We hold* our hands and softly say, thank you for our food today. Amen.

    *We hold our hands, alternately you can say (and do!) fold our hands. I remember quite a few graces though, learned mostly at Guides. Like the Johnny Appleseed referenced above, as well as the Brown Cow grace which is also sung.

    We thank the brown cow for the chocolate milk,
    we thank the pig oink oink for the bacon on the grill,
    we thank the egg for the chicken and the chicken for the egg,
    we thank the Lord for our daily bread,

    And numerous others that I’m sure to be forgetting. :)

  • Anthony Deane

    My Godfather (who was a Priest) always had a great blessing:

    “Bless us Lord, and bless the food,
    Keep us in a cheerful mood.
    Bless the cook,
    And all who serve us.
    From sin and indigestion,
    Lord, preserve us!”

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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