The Underground Church


Latin table graces

This is merely a sampling of this interesting and ancient custom. For a more comprehensive list, check out this book, The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge by Reginald Adams: Example.

Ferial grace

Common to several colleges is a short version for every day use:

ante cibum (before the meal):
Benedictus benedicat, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
May the blessed one give a blessing, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

post cibum (after the meal):
Benedicto benedicatur, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
May the blessed one be blessed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or, even shorter:
ante cibum (before the meal):
Benedictus benedicat. – Amen.
May the blessed one give a blessing.

post cibum (after the meal):
Benedicto benedicatur. – Amen.
May the blessed one be blessed. – Amen

A latin Table grace from Queens College, Cambridge
Benedic, Domine, nos et dona tua, quae de largitate tua sumus sumpturi, et concede, ut illis salubriter nutriti tibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus, per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Bless, O Lord, us and your gifts, which from your bounty we are about to receive, and grant that, healthily nourished by them, we may render you due obedience, through Christ our Lord.
A noted version for a shorter version of this sung grace can be found here.

Clare college, Cambridge:

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine; tu das iis escam eorum in tempore opportuno. Aperis tu manum tuam, et imples omne animal benedictione tua.

Sanctifica nos, quaesumus, Domine, per verbum et orationem, istisque tuis donis, quae de tua bonitate sumus accepturi, benedicito per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.”

Translation (from Reginald Adams’ book):
The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord; thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand and fillest every living thing with blessing.

Sanctify us, we beseech thee, O Lord, through thy word and prayer, and consecrate these thy gifts, which through thy generosity we are about to receive, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Balliol College, Oxford (performed once a year at Feast of St. Catherine)

Benedictus est Deus in donis suis.
Response: Et sanctus in omnibus operibus suis.

Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini est.
Response: Qui fecit coelum et terras.

Sit nomen Dei benedictum.
Response: Ab hoc tempore usque ad saecula.

Tribuere digneris, Domine Deus, nobis omnibus bona facientibus ob tuum sanctum nomen vitam aeternam.

In memoria aeterna erit justus.
Response: Et ab auditione mala nunquam timebit.

Justorum animae in manibus Dei sunt.
Response: Ne tangant eos instrumenta nequitiae.

Funde, quaesumus, Domine Deus, in mentes nostras gratiam tuam, ut tuis hisce donis datis a Johanne Balliolo et Dervorguilla uxore, caeterisque omnibus benefactoribus nostris, rite in tuam gloriam utentes in vitam una cum fidelibus omnibus resurgamus, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

Deus pro infinita sua clementia Ecclesiae unitatem et concordiam concedat, Reginam conservet, pacemque huic regno populoque Christiano largiatur, per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

After the meal:
Blessed is God in his gifts
Response: And holy in all his works.

Our help is in the name of the Lord
Response: Who hath made heaven and earth.

May the name of God be blessed
Response: From this time forth for evermore.

Vouchsafe, Lord God, to bestow eternal life on all of us if we do that which is good, for the sake of thy holy name.

The just man shall be held in eternal memory
Response: And he shall fear nothing from evil report.

The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God
Response: so that no means of wickedness should touch them.

Pour, we beseech thee, Lord God, thy grace into our minds so that, using fitly and to thy glory these thy gifts made through John Balliol and Dervorguilla his wife and all our other benefactors we may rise again to life in heaven with all the faithful, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May God of his infinite mercy bring unity and concord to the Church, preserve the Queen and grant peace to this kingdom and the Christian people, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Oriel College, Oxford:

Benedicte Deus, qui pascis nos a iuventute nostra et praebes cibum omni carni, reple gaudio et laetitia corda nostra, ut nos, quod satis est habentes, abundemus in omne opus bonum. Per Jesum Christum, Dominum Nostrum, cui tecum et Spiritu Sancto, sit omnis honos, laus et imperium in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Blessed God, who feeds us from our youth, and provided food for all flesh, fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, having enough to satisfy us, may abound in every good work, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and praise and power for all ages. Amen.

University College, Durham:

Domine omnipotens, aeterne Deus; qui tam benigne nos pascere hoc tempore dignatus es; largire nobis, ut tibi semper pro tua in nos bonitate ex animo gratias agamus; vitam honeste et pie transigamus; et studia ea sectemur quae gloriam tuam illustrare et ecclesiae tuae adiumenta esse possint; per Christum dominum nostrum. Amen.

Almighty Lord, eternal God; who hast so graciously deigned to feed us at this time; grant to us, that we may ever give Thee heartfelt thanks for Thy goodness to us; that we may pass our lives honourably and religiously; and that we may follow such pursuits as can shed light on Thy glory and afford assistance to Thy church; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wolfson and Girton colleges:

Sanc-ti-fi-cet no-bis vict-um qui cun-cta cre-a-vit.

Let him who hath created all things bless for us what there is to eat.
(20th century)

(Source: Lecture by Julian Cable for the Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society; this was online but apparently no longer exists)

Magdalen College, Oxford

Benedic Domine nobis et donis tuis quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi, et concede ut illis salubriter nutriti tibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus, per Jesum Christum Dominum et Servatorem Nostrum, Amen.

Bless us Lord and your gifts, which from your bounty we are about to receive, and grant that we, healthfully sustained by them, may render to you our dutiful service, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Amen.

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