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Thanksgiving Prayers and Blessings
See the best Thanksgiving prayers and blessings for the holiday, each one on a printable custom graphic. Find your favorite traditional prayer and new selections.
While any day is appropriate for thanksgiving prayers or blessings, they are especially valued on the Thanksgiving holiday.
It is the custom in the United States and in Canada to sit down to a formal meal with friends and family in honor of Thanksgiving Day. It is also the custom to begin the dinner with a thanksgiving prayer or blessing.
Here you will find the traditional favorites as well as some from other cultures to add to your collection. Each is presented on a professional graphic which you may print to give to each dinner guest. In this way, the guests at your dinner table may recite or sing the texts in unison.
The printouts also make wonderful mementos of the holiday dinner, for your family and for your guests. (You may use these graphics for your personal use and you may pin them on Pinterest, but you may not post them on another website.) Just 'right click' to save.
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Psalms of Thanksgiving
The word thanksgiving first entered the English language when the Bible was translated to English in 1517. The word was originally thankesgevynge and it was used in the Biblical Psalms of Thanksgiving. In English, the word always had a religious context. From the 16th century onward, the word is found in many religious poems of thanksgiving.
One of the most beloved Psalms using this new English-language word is Psalm 100.
The prayer below is based on a work written in the 1800s by Rabbi Alexander Diskin, which in turn was based on an even earlier source. Recently, free copies of this prayer in many languages are being distributed by the non-profit CKL Foundation. The pamphlet has been printed over 1,500,000 times.
This English translation, A Prayer of Thanks, was made by Breslev Rabbi Lazer Brody of Israel.
The Iroquois Native American Indian tribe had a tradition of offering daily prayers, which were called Thanksgivings. Several of these were translated into English by Harriet Maxwell Converse (1836 – 1903), a New York writer and advocate for Indian rights. The Indian federation known as the Six Nations of the United States and Canada made her a chief, an extraordinary honor to be given to a white woman.
In the prayer below, the Iroquois' religious teacher Ga-ne-o-di-o is referenced and God is referred to as the Great Spirit. Gratitude is expressed for the creation of human beings, animals, the sun and the moon, and even maple syrup ("timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them").
In 1945 a cache of papyrus codices was found buried in pottery in a graveyard in Nag Hammadi, a settlement on the Nile River in Egypt. They are believed to be the writings of a Coptic sect of early Christianity, but bear little resemblance to later Christian teachings.
Below is the prayer of thanksgiving which was found in the collection. The prayer was recited in unison before eating the communal meal.
Walter Rauschenbusch (1861 – 1918) was an America Baptist preacher who believed that religion involved social action.
This is one of his most famous prayers, A Thanksgiving Prayer.
Jeremiah Eames Rankin (1828 – 1904) was an American pastor and the president of Howard University. During his lifetime, he also wrote many hymns. Following is his Prayer of Thanksgiving.
This is a traditional prayer from the British Harvest Festival, which is held at the end of the autumn harvest throughout the U.K.
Reverend Samuel F. Pugh was born in 1904 and spent his life as a church pastor and editor of World Call magazine. He was also a prolific religious poet. His A Thanksgiving Prayer below is an excerpt from the New York Times bestseller, The Thanksgiving Ceremony, New Traditions for America's Feast by E. Bleier.
Reverend Pugh passed away in 2007 at the age of 103.
Pauline Esther Phillips (1918 – 2013) was known throughout the world by her pen name, Abigail van Buren, creator of the Dear Abby newspaper column. She began writing the column in 1956 and it was syndicated in more than 1,400 newspapers.
This is a favorite prayer that appeared in the column several years during the holiday season:
In the spirit of thankfulness, the prayer below was introduced into the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in 1928. It is a prayer invoking God's blessing on the nation.
Known for his narrative lyrics, folk and country music singer Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) captured the spirit of the American heartland with his poem On Thanksgiving, I Thank You. It is the song of a poor farmer who has nothing to feed his family for the holiday meal except for bread and beans.
To appreciate this emotional work, listen to Cash's presentation in the video below. The transcription follows underneath the video.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy is a Baptist minister and president of the Interfaith Alliance. Below is his short Thanksgiving prayer.
This is a book exploring the Christian traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday. Go read dozens of 5-star reviews and a review from Publishers Weekly – great hostess gift!
America has a rich political tradition of giving thanks to God and of invoking His blessings on the nation and its people. The first official proclamation was issued by the Continental Congress in 1777. Reading the Thanksgiving Proclamations from years gone by gives a picture of the religious heritage of America.
Two of these appear below: the first was issued by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War in 1863 and the second was issued by John F. Kennedy, one hundred years later in 1963. Both of these American presidents were assassinated while in office.
Perhaps the most well-known short thanksgiving blessing is this simple grace said before meals:
Bless, O Lord, these gifts to our use
And us to Your loving service.
Many cultures have blessings giving thanks to God and some of these have been adopted for use during the American and Canadian Thanksgiving holidays. Several of these Thanksgiving blessings are presented below.
One of the favorite blessings is We Gather Together by Theodore Baker. This blessing was based on a Dutch hymn written in 1597 in thankfulness for a war victory. It is now the most familiar blessing said by American families at the holiday dinner table and is also used as a hymn in religious services for the holiday.
You may print the graphic of this blessing so everyone at your holiday celebration can follow the text or sing the hymn.
This is a touching video of children singing this famous of all Thanksgiving blessings.
This is a traditional Jewish blessing from the 2nd century CE. Known as the Nishmat Kol Chai (The Soul of Every Living Thing), a long or short version is said in synagogues and in family homes on the Sabbath and on many holidays, including Sukkot which is celebrated at the time of the autumn harvest in the land of Israel.
In the 1500s, the Aztec population of central Mexico was heavily influenced by the coming of Christian missionaries from Spain. Following is one of the blessings adopted by the Aztecs for use in their religious liturgies.
In England, churches began celebrating the Harvest Festival in the 1800s with special prayers and blessings in their services called Harvest Home. Parishioners bring the fruits, vegetables and grains from the autumn harvest into their churches for the Sunday celebration and these are distributed to those in need.
The traditional blessing below is one of the most popular in the U.K.
The blessing below is from the Baptist tradition for Harvest Home in the U.K. and was first used in 1843. It is usually referred to as the Prayer of Approach.
American singer Johnny Cash wrote A Thanksgiving Prayer, to honor God's blessing him with his wife, June Carter Cash. The two made a guest appearance together on an American television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, in the 1990s. In the clip from the show below, Cash sings this song to his wife with this refrain:
"This year when I count my blessings,
I'm thanking the Lord He made You."
June Carter Cash died in 2003, four months before her husband. Those close to Johnny said that he died of a broken heart after losing his wife of 35 years.
The lyrics are transcribed below the video.
You can find more Thanksgiving Prayers and Psalms in this collection, all on printable graphics for the holiday:
Thanksgiving Prayers for Kids
Kids love learning Thanksgiving prayers for the holiday and love to offer their own at the festive meal. Prayers that rhyme are especially easy for them to learn and to remember.
Here are several which are appropriate for children under the age of ten.
This beautifully illustrated, oversized board book, rates five-star reviews on Amazon. Combine with another item on your shopping list and shipping is free!
This is a new prayer just for kids which is full of things all children can be thankful for, any day of the year. Feel free to add your own verses, too!
Kids love this all-time favorite, full of Thanksgiving blessings, colorful drawings and lovable bears.
Even the youngest kid at the table can learn this short prayer to say a blessing before a meal.
If you would like to add a prayer or blessing to this collection, just write it in the section below.
Find colorful graphics for the holidays in this exclusive collection:
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The Thanksgiving pictures on this page may be used for personal use only. If you would like to request permission for use on websites or for other commercial use, contact the author.