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Blessing before a meal

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Our small SATB church choir has been asked to sing the blessing before the
meal at an upcoming parish dinner. Any suggestions as to a suitable piece?

[48 responses, of which 3 asked for compilation. 31 are shown below: lots
of variety, and the ocasional flash of humour. Many, many thanks to all who
responded -- what a terrific resource and help are the people on this
list!!!! BTW, our rehearsal is July 4th (Canada, remember) for the dinner
on July 6th.]

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If it has to be short, the chorus of the hymn "We Plough the Fields and
Scatter" is a wonderful grace before meals. Don't be surprised if the
congregation sings along.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from God above.
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.

You can find it in most hymnals, usually in the "Harvest Festival" section.

+++++ 02 +++++

The mischief-maker in me wants to suggest my "May God Be Merciful to Us" as
a pre-meal blessing (Psalm 67) ... but I expect you are really looking for
a more suitable text :-)

+++++ 03 +++++ [5 replies giving this or alternate text]

I grew up in a church where we always sang a blessing before meals. It was
the doxology but with the text:

Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored.
These mercies bless and grant that we
May feast in paradise with thee. Amen.

[alternate for last 2 lines]:

His mercies bless and grant that we
May feast in fellowship with Thee.

[and one with this suggestion]:

keep in unison until the last syllable of each line where you can break
into four works like a dream and is easy....

+++++ 04 +++++

There is one that the Purdue Varsity Glee Club sings at all of their trips.
I can give you the words:

Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
His mercies bless and grant that we
May feast with hope and charity
For health, for food, for love and friends
For everything Thy goodnes sends.

I think those are the words, and the tune is a standard hymn. Better yet,
go to and see if you can email Brian Breed or Jonathan
Swoboda about it. Brian is the head director, and Jonathan one of the
ass't directors. It's totally appropriate and always well received.

+++++ 05 +++++ [9 replies for the Doxology as written]

What is your denomination? [Answer: I do not belong to a denomination.
I'm RC.]
Do you usually sing the Doxology? (Old Hundredth - Praise God, from whom
all Blessings Flow) If so, that one works.. either to the Old 100th tune
or to Tallis' Canon.. or.. Lasst uns erfreuen..

If you are in a hurry, there is a very short round.. For health and
strength and daily food, we praise Thy name, O God.

You might check with Choristers Guild..

In case anybody happened to sample the goods before the meal, any
setting of Psalm 103 "Bless the Lord, O My Soul, and all that is within me,
bless His holy name ;-)

+++++ 06 +++++

A short, acappella piece that's wonderful to sing is "A Grace" by William
Mathias, pub. Oxford University Press.

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There is always the round "For Health and Strength and Daily Food." I've
used it with the whole group. Not a straight 4-part piece.

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There is a lovely blessing in the musical 'Hurry On Down", the story of
Zaccheus. It is a two part round, with piano accompaniment. It would be
lovely with guitar instead, but also would be fine a capella.

+++++ 09 +++++

Harold Friedell-- Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether--- with a couple of word
changes --it's really a communion anthem but if it's not part of your
regular repetoir and the congregation doesn't know it as an anthem or
congregational hymn... it would work well as a dinner blessing. I believe
the publishers is HWGray

In my church the congregation sings the following before church meals--
I'm a little prejudice toward it since I wrote the words

O God be present at this meal,
May we your holy spirit feel,
>From your great bounty we are fed,
You give to us our daily bread,

We hunger not for bread alone
But that you make your will our own,
Show us your way, your truth, your light,
That we glory in your sight.

As Christ, our savior, showed the way,
Remind us with each dawning day,
Where we see sorrow, want, or need
You make us equal to the deed.

We sing it to the tune: Tallis' Canon and do it as a canon.

I'm sure you will get many far better suggestions than mine--

+++++ 10 +++++

Benedictus benedicat is a good grace. It is found in Wonder, Love, and
Praise--the supplement to the Hymnal. I cannot remember the number. 2
verses long, it is quite acessible to any church choir.

+++++ 11 +++++

The first one I can think of is a song entitled "Remember". I think it is
made up of 2 songs - "Remembrance" by Tom Fettke and "We Remember You" by
Dearman. This arrangement is a cappella. It is on a CD "With One Voice".
It is done by the Masters Chorale and available with Crystal Sea Recordings
or Pilot Point Music. There is a choral book - the only negative is that
it isn't just one of these songs - it is a collection of songs from the CD.
Hopefully this helps a little.

+++++ 12 +++++

if you want to try something in German, why not go for Schütz' "Aller Augen
warten auf dich, Herre". very easy to learn and very beautiful.

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There is actually little sung motets -- one for before and one for after a
meal -- written by Heinrich Schutz among his "Cantiones Sacrae." Sorry I
can't be more specific, nor am I certain this is the kind of thing you are
looking for.

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I like a song called "Give Thanks", by Henry Smith. Copyright 1978
Integrity's Hosanna Music. You can find it in songbook no. 1 of the
"Praise Worship" seriies.

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We sing, in canon :
For health and strength and daily food (bread) we praise Thy Name, O Lord.

q I q q q q I q q q q I q q q q I dotted half

D5 I D6 D D C I B B B A I G G G F# I G

The canon begins when the first voice arrives at "C" in the first complete

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"Prayer of Thanksgiving" is always nice, or maybe "For the Beauty of the

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"Let Us Break Bread Together" -- I forget which particular edition;
however, I am certain that you will get many answers from your question.

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"The Lord bless you and keep you" By Peter Lutkin

Allelujah by Thompson

John Rutter: Deep Peace of the Running Wave to you...

I don't know, THese are a few my choir has done at Graduation dinners- very
good feedback on them too!

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My college ensemble used the Tallis Canon, in which the second verse is the
Doxology. As the harmony unfolds it is quite beautiful and effective. (In
spite of our well-publicized barrier between church and state, no one ever
objected to singing it, not even Jewish students who did have objections to
singing some of our Christmas repertoire. With a church choir this should
not be a problem.)

I've also know groups to use a setting of the Old Irish Blessing.

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Verse 6 from hymn 23 in Ancient & Modern Revised ( Anglican ) to the tune
Canon by T. Tallis. We normally do it in Canon which works great.

+++++ 21 +++++ (2 recommendations)

Heinrich Schütz - Aller Augen warten auf dich, Herre (very accessible!
SATB); I know that there exist several translated versions of this, and am
almost certain that there will be an English text equivalent for this piece
commercially available. (The eyes of all wait for thee).

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LASST UNS ERFREUEN (with Alleluias), and others of similar meter

+++++ 23 +++++

I don't know if you can get it, but have you considered the Sabboth prayer
from the musical "A Fiddler on the Roof"?

+++++ 24 +++++ (submitted by the Copmposer)

Title: We Lift Up Our Hearts
Voicing: SATB and unison children's choir (or soprano solo)
Composer/Author: Elizabeth Alexander/Richard M. Fewkes
Year of composition/publication: 2000
Duration: 3 minutes
Publisher: Seafarer Press SEA-021-00
Price: $2.00/copy
"For the sun and the dawn which we did not create,
For the moon and the evening which we did not design,
For food which we plant but cannot grow,
For friends and loved ones we have not earned and cannot buy,
For all gifts which come from a source beyond ourselves
We lift up our hearts in thanks."

Perusal copies are available upon request, via UPS, US mail or FAX.
Additional copies may be ordered directly from Seafarer Press or through
your local music dealer.

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There is a nice German round called Danke Danke Denn Herr! Luther College
used to sing it on tour for every meal. You might ask Tim and Sandra Peter.

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I like a short setting of the Tallis Canon in English.

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You may want to look at "Sing Joyfully" by William Byrd. The text is
perfectly appropriate and the work is best performed by a small ensemble.
I have performed it several times on similar occasions. Good luck with
your search.

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Gratias agimus tibi....William Mathias' composition

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I'm assuming your congregation won't want to listen to a long anthem when
the food is on the table. [That sort of discourages Thompson's Alleluia,
doesn't it? :>)] I'd suggest you look at "Let All Things Now Living"
(tune: Ash Grove) or another Thanksgiving hymn. Another suggestion would be
a communion hymn like "Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread." These two are in
the Presbyterian Hymnal (PC/USA).

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Our family used to sing the hymn 'Come and Dine' - not sure if you are
familiar with this?

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"For Health and Strength" (with syllables and then pitches in key of F)

For health and strength (The first two words is an octave
sol sol sol sol

And dai--ly food
fa mi mi mi
Bb A A A

We give Thee thanks, O Lord.
re do do do ti do

Divide group into four sections and sing as a round. Meter is 4/4, all
quarter notes, beginning with a pickup and then holding out the last note.
"For Thy Generous Blessings" (Key of d-minor)

For Thy gen-rous bless-ings
la ti do ti la mi

For Thy won-drous Word
la ti do re mi

For Thy boun-tious go-od---ness
mi fa mi re do-ti la
A Bb A G F--E D

We give thanks O Lord.
mi la la ti la

Meter is a relaxed 4/4, starting on a down beat.
1st line:
quarter-quarter-quarter-quarter-half-half (half-halfÞscending 4th)
2nd line: " " " "
whole (ascending scale)
3rd line: " " " "
4th line: " " " " whole

Again, divide group into 4 sections and sing as a round. Sing thru twice
with each group holding out last note until all are singing a unison.

Best wishes and hope this helps. Also, hope it prints out so as to make

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All the best,

Brian Taylor,
Toronto, ON Canada

-- Life is a journey from conception to eternity.

First, I should rectify an omission:

+++++ 09 +++++

This contributor supplied us with text of his own, and, trying to do the
most efficient job, I neglected to attribute it to him by name. Words were
by John Chaney, johnwater(a) Apologies to Mr. Chaney and to the
members of the list for my omission.

And these subsequently contributed:

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The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee by Jean Berger.

+++++ 33 +++++

Sung to the song from the Sound Of Music "Edelweiss"
This will be an easy song to learn, easy song to harmonize to and a favorite
for all. Trust me!

Bless our friends, bless our food
Come dear Lord and sit with us
May our hearts grow with peace
Come with Your love to surround us
Friendship and love may they bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow,
For ever,
Bless our friends, bless our food
Bless all mankind for ever
Friendship and love may they bloom and grow
Bloom and grow
For ever
Bless our friends, Bless our food
Bless all mankind forever.

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A long time ago I used William Billings *Hail Sacred Music, Hail* in its
entirety as a choral grace at my church, inserting a quiet 4th verse (SATB)
of my own composition:

O bless our festal meal
And cause us thy love to feel.
Bless thou all those within this place
And fill our hearts with grace.

--then finishing with verse 1 sung ff a 7 (Sops & tenors each doubled at the
octave w/basses split for as many notes as feasible)--it worked incredibly

Robert Ross, VocNovEtAn(a)

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+++++ CODA +++++

As I mentioned, we were to rehearse last night for the dinner on Saturday
evening. I chose the Doxology sung to to Old Hundredth + Tallis canon sung
as a round using the first verse of compilation item #9 + the Tallis SATB
with the 2nd verse of #9 (I have that arrangement in The Summit Choirbook
[which I have found to be very good value for money], published by the
Dominican Nuns at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, Summit, NJ
07901). As it turns out, the dinner was to be held in a local library, but
the City of Toronto is currently beseiged by strikes by several different
unions of municipal workers. Outside workers (garbage collection, parks &
recreation, etc.) have been on strike for 10 days; a couple of days ago,
18,000 inside workers also went on strike. At rehearsal last night, we were
told that the dinner was cancelled and will probably be rescheduled for
sometime in December, but we went through everything anyway, and my
choristers were favourably impressed and appreciative when I told them of
all your help and they enjoyed the selections I had made. In this morning's
paper it said that library workers have ratified an agreement, narrowly
averting a strike by their union. Ah, such is life.

All the best,

Brian Taylor,
Toronto, ON Canada

-- Life is a journey from conception to eternity.

on February 11, 2003 10:00pm
You might try "Food For Fun". We've used it at the end of the concert prior to a reception where there were great munchies. It takes a little work to learn the music and you must have a decent flute player. SATB with piano (or harpsichord setting on a digital keyboard.) Pseudo early classical style. Lasts a minute. Tongue in cheek but a blessing nonetheless. You can go to and download the scorch plug-in to see and hear the piece.
on February 6, 2011 10:27am
Addendum to "Food for Fun".   There's no scorch plug-in, but you can listen to a digitized version in mp3. 
You can download the music FOR FREE.  Please notify if you'd like to do so.
on September 2, 2008 10:00pm
Hi J. Brian Taylor

I happen to go to a website that had your email address on it. You mentioned you used to sing it. I would like to ask you a question, if you don