By Lori Bosworth
Thanksgiving is around the corner and the one thing that can put you in a pickle at the dinner table is when you are called on to say grace before the meal. Many of us stumble and ad lib our way through the prayer, feeling not quite satisfied with the end result. Whether you are having dinner at home or enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at a Toronto restaurant, you may want to have a copy of Adrian Butash’s Bless This Food: Ancient & Contemporary Graces from Around the World near the Thanksgiving turkey. Butash’s collection features 160 prayers from each of the world’s major religions written by religious and literary leaders including Mother Teresa, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, Chief Dan George, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Muhammad, Mohandas Ghandi, Dante Alighieri, Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, Robert Burns, Saint Francis of Assissi, Tecumseh and John Milton among others. You’ll even find two prayers to be offered in American Sign Language with an explanation. Further, before each prayer, Butash has provided some background on the prayer and the religion to give the prayer more context.
Sharing in a prayer before a meal may slowly becoming a lost art; however, with much focus on the importance of expressing gratitude in current psychology, it’s easy to see that the act of delivering a prayer before dinner may undergo a resurgence in popularity.
Here are a few offerings you’ll find in Bless This Food:
If the food is getting cold and you’re looking for something short:
O God, our Father,
be Thou the Unseen guest at our table,
and fill our Hearts with Thy Love
~ Author Unknown
If you want to impress your tablemates with your knowledge of Shakespeare, try this:
This night I hold an old accustom’d feast,
Whereto I have invited many a guest,
Such as I love; and you among them the store,
One more, most welcome, makes my number more.
~ William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 2, Line 20
This prayer will provide a little humour before Thanksgiving dinner, but make sure that the reader delivers it with a Scottish brogue:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
~ Robert Burns (1759-1776)
“The Selkirk Grace”
Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World, Adrian Butash, New World Library (2013), ISBN-10: 1608682145
Will your family be saying grace before your Thanksgiving meal? If so, which prayer do you recite?