A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child

The 1979 American Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer E-text Edition (American, 1979) Version 1.0 13 December 1993

As soon as convenient after the birth of a child, or after receiving a child by adoption, the parents, with other members of the family, should come to the church to be welcomed by the congregation and to give thanks to Almighty God. It is desirable that this take place at a Sunday service. In the Eucharist it may follow the Prayers of the People preceding the Offertory. At Morning or Evening Prayer it may take place before the close of the Office.

When desired, a briefer form of this service may be used, especially in the hospital or at home; in which case the Celebrant may begin with the Act of Thanksgiving, or with the prayer "O God, you have taught is." A passage from Scripture may first be read. Either Luke 2:41-51, or Luke 18:15-17, is appropriate.

During the prayers, some parents may wish to express thanks in their own words.

At the proper time, the Celebrant invites the parents and other members of the family to present themselves before the Altar.

(page 440)

For the Birth of a Child

The Celebrant addresses the congregation in these or similar words

Dear Friends: The birth of a child is a joyous and solemn occasion in the life of a family. It is also an occasion for rejoicing in the Christian community. I bid you, therefore, to join N. [and N.] in giving thanks to Almighty God our heavenly Father, the Lord of all life, for the gift of N. to be their son (daughter) [and with N. (and N. N..), for a new brother (sister)]. Let us say together:
The service continues with the Magnificat or one of the Psalms on pages 441-443.

For an Adoption

The Celebrant addresses the congregation in these or similar words

Dear Friends: It has pleased God our heavenly Father to answer the earnest prayers of N. [and N.], member(s) of this Christian family, for the gift of a child. I bid you join with them [and with N. (and N. N..), who now has a new brother (sister)] in offering heartfelt thanks for the joyful and solemn responsibility which is theirs by the coming of N. to be a member of their family. But first, our friends wish us, here assembled, to witness the inauguration of this new relationship.

The Celebrant asks the parent or parents

N. [and N.], do you take this child for your own?

Parent(s) I do.

(page 441)

Then if the child is old enough to answer, the Celebrant asks

N., do you take this woman as your mother?

Child I do.

Celebrant Do you take this man as your father?

Child I do.

Then the Celebrant, holding or taking the child by the hand, gives the child to the mother or father, saying

As God has made us his children by adoption and grace, may you receive N. as your own son (daughter).

Then one or both parents say these or similar words

May God, the Father of all, bless our child N., and us who have given to him our family name, that we may live together in love and affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Act of Thanksgiving

The Celebrant says

Since it has pleased God to bestow upon N. [and N.] the gift of a child, let us now give thanks to him, and say together:

The Song of Mary

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God by Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

(page 442)

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

or this

Psalm 116

I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called
upon him.
Gracious is the LORD and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
How shall I repay the LORD
for all the good things he has done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call upon the Name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
In the courts of the LORD'S house,
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

(page 443)

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those
who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Celebrant then says this prayer

Let us pray. O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives Christ himself: We give thanks for the blessing you have bestowed upon this family in giving them a child. Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(page 444)


The Celebrant may add one or more of the following prayers

For a safe delivery

O gracious God, we give you humble and hearty thanks that you have preserved through the pain and anxiety of child- birth your servant N., who desires now to offer you her praises and thanksgivings. Grant, most merciful Father, that by your help she may live faithfully according to your will in this life, and finally partake of everlasting glory in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the parents

Almighty God, giver of life and love, bless N. and N. Grant them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy. And so knit their wills together in your will and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may live together in love and peace all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a child not yet baptized

O eternal God, you have promised to be a father to a thousand generations of those who love and fear you: Bless this child and preserve his life; receive him and enable him to receive you, that through the Sacrament of Baptism he may become the child of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a child already baptized

Into your hands, O God, we place your child N. Support him in his successes and in his failures, in his joys and in his

(page 444)

sorrows. As he grows in age, may he grow in grace, and in the knowledge of his Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Celebrant may then bless the family

May God the Father, who by Baptism adopts us as his children, grant you grace. Amen.
May God the Son, who sanctified a home at Nazareth, fill you with love. Amen.
May God the Holy Spirit, who has made the Church one family, keep you in peace. Amen.

The Peace may be exchanged.

The Minister of the Congregation is directed to instruct the people, from time to time, about the duty of Christian parents to make prudent provision for the well-being of their families, and of all persons to make wills, while they are in health, arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, not neglecting, if they are able, to leave bequests for religious and charitable uses.

This text marked up by Michael Fraser, April 1995