Religious & secular readings for baby naming ceremonies

Written by    Last updated: March 12, 2007

The Little Children and Jesus 

Bible (Mark 10:13-16)

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Your children are not your children

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

Read our Christening Guide

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and bends you with might that the arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as the Archer loves the arrow that flies,
so the Archer also loves the bow that is stable.

Quaker Faith and Practice

We do not own the world and its riches are not ours to dispose or at will.  Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world.  Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God’s continuing creation.

A Prayer Celebrating the spirit of a child


Give us the spirit of the child.
Give us the child who lives within – the child who trusts, the child who imagines, the child who sings, the child who receives without reservation, the child who gives without judgement.
Give us a child’s eyes, that we may receive the beauty and freshness of this day like a sunrise. Give us a child’s ears, that we may hear the music of mythical times.
Give us a child’s heart, that we may be filled with wonder and delight.
Give us a child’s faith, that we may be cured of our cynicism.
Give us the spirit of the child, who is not afraid to need, who is not afraid to love. Amen

The Lamb

William Blake (1757-1827)

 Little Lamb, who made thee?
 Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee,
 Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb:
He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.



Be true to those who trust thee,
Be pure for those who care.
Be strong, for there is much to suffer,
Be brave, for there is much to dare.
Be a friend to all – the foe, the friendless.
Be giving and forget the gift.
Be humble, for thou knowest thy weakness.
And then, look up and laugh and love and live.

Our Child

(Zuri Indian poem)

Our child
Now this is the day.
Our child,
Into the daylight
You will go out standing.
Preparing for your day.

Our child, it is your day,
This day.
May your road be fulfilled.
May we live in your thoughts,
May we be the ones whom your thoughts will embrace,
May you help us all to finish our roads


(Iona Community prayer)

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you

Infant Joy

William Blake

‘I have no name:
I am but two days old.’
‘I happy am,
Joy is my name.’
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!
Sweet Joy, but two days old!
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while,
Sweet joy befall thee!

Omaha Native American Blessing

Sun, Moon, Stars, all you that move in the heavens, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make his/her path smooth, that he/she may reach the brow of the first hill!

Winds, Clouds, Rain, Mist, all you that move in the air, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make his/her path smooth, that he/she may reach the brow of the second hill!

Hills, Valleys, Rivers, Lakes, Trees, Grasses, all you of the earth, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make his/her path smooth, that he/she may reach the brow of the third hill!

Birds, great and small, that fly in the air, Animals, great and small, that dwell in the forest, Insects that creep among the grasses and burrow in the ground, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make his/her path smooth, that he/she may reach the brow of the fourth hill!

All you of the heavens, all you of the air, all you of the earth, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make his/her path smooth, then shall he/she travel beyond the four hills!


The Upanishads

(Hindu Vedas)

Lead us from death to life,
From falsehood to truth;
Lead us from despair to hope,
From fear to trust;
Lead us from hate to love,
From war to peace;
Let peace fill our hearts,
Our world, our universe.


Intimations of Immortality

William Wordsworth 1770–1850

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: 
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar: 
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful, 
The Lord God made them all.

1. Each little flower that opens,
    Each little bird that sings,
    He made their glowing colours,
    and made their tiny wings. 

2. The purple-headed mountains,
    the river running by,
    the sunset and the morning
    that brightens up the sky. 

3. The cold wind in the winter,
    the pleasant summer sun,
    the ripe fruits in the garden,
    God made them every one. 

4. He gave us eyes to see them,
    and lips that we might tell
    how great is God Almighty,
    who has made all things well.

Thanks for a day

Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!
Praise for the morning
Praise for them, springing
Fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain’s new fall
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
Of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness
Where his feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light
Eden saw play!
Praise with elation
Praise every morning,
God’s re-creation
Of the new day!

The Baptism Blessing

From the ‘Carmina Gadelica’

Thou Being who inhabitest the heights
Imprint Thy blessing betimes,
Remember Thou the child of my body,
In Name of the Father of peace;
When the priest of the King
On him puts the water of meaning,
Grant him the blessing of the Three
Who fill the heights.
The blessing of the Three
Who fill the heights.

Sprinkle down upon him Thy grace,
Give Thou to him virtue and growth,
Give Thou to him strength and guidance,
Give Thou to him flocks and possessions,
Sense and reason void of guile,
Angel wisdom in his day,
That he may stand without reproach
In Thy presence.
He may stand without reproach
In Thy presence.

Invocation of the Graces

From the ‘Carmina Gadelica’

I bathe thy palms
In showers of wine,
In the lustral fire,
In the seven elements,
In the juice of the rasps,
In the milk of honey,
And I place the nine pure choice graces
In thy fair fond face,
        The grace of form,
        The grace of voice,
        The grace of fortune,
        The grace of goodness,
        The grace of wisdom,
        The grace of charity,
        The grace of choice maidenliness,
        The grace of whole-souled loveliness,
        The grace of goodly speech.

Dark is yonder town,
Dark are those therein,
Thou art the brown swan,
Going in among them.
Their hearts are under thy control,
Their tongues are beneath thy sole,
Nor will they ever utter a word  
        To give thee offence.

A shade art thou in the heat,
A shelter art thou in the cold,
Eyes art thou to the blind,
A staff art thou to the pilgrim,
An island art thou at sea,
A fortress art thou on land,
A well art thou in the desert,     
        Health art thou to the ailing.

Thine is the skill of the Fairy Woman,
Thine is the virtue of Bride the calm,
Thine is the faith of Mary the mild,
Thine is the tact of the woman of Greece,
Thine is the beauty of Emir the lovely
Thine is the tenderness of Darthula delightful,
Thine is the courage of Maebh the h3,     
        Thine is the charm of Binne-bheul.

Thou art the joy of all joyous things,
Thou art the light of the beam of the sun,
Thou art the door of the chief of hospitality,
Thou art the surpassing star of guidance,
Thou art the step of the deer of the hill,
Thou art the step of the steed of the plain,
Thou art the grace of the swan of swimming,    
        Thou art the loveliness of all lovely desires.

The lovely likeness of the Lord
Is in thy pure face,
The loveliest likeness that
Was upon earth.

The best hour of the day be thine,
The best day of the week be thine,
The best week of the year be thine,
The best year in the Son of God’s domain be thine.

Peter has come and Paul has come,
James has come and John has come,
Muriel and Mary Virgin have come,
Uriel the all-beneficent has come,
Ariel the beauteousness of the young has come,
Gabriel the seer of the Virgin has come,
Raphael the prince of the valiant has come,
And Michael the chief of the hosts has come,
        And Jesus Christ the mild has come,
        And the Spirit of true guidance has come,
        And the King of kings has come on the helm,
        To bestow on thee their affection and their love,
        To bestow on thee their affection and their love.

Power of Raven

From the ‘Carmina Gadelica’

Power of raven be yours,
Power of eagle be yours,
Power of the Fiann.

Power of the storm be yours,
Power of the moon be yours,
Power of sun.

Power  of sea be yours,
Power of land be yours,
Power of heaven.

Goodness of sea be yours,
Goodness of earth be yours,
Goodness of heaven.

Each day be joyous to you,
No day be grievous to you.
Love of each face be yours,
Death on pillow be yours.

A bright flame before thee
A guiding star above thee
A smooth path below thee
A kindly shepherd to lead thee
Today, tonight and for evermore.

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