sing for your dinner.


i found this picture of these knives and really wanted to know more. their story is fascinating.

Knives with musical notes on the blades are known as notation knives. A notation is the written version of a physical process, such as the sound of music. Once it is written down it can be preserved and recreated.  Sung at four different levels.They are the four parts Superius (Soprano) Countratenor (Alto), Tenor, and Bassus (Bass) to be sung simultaneously as in a hymn.

These knives are etched with notations expressing gratitude for a meal. On one side of the blade the inscription translates as, ‘The blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat’, to be sung before the meal is taken. On the other side the notation gives thanks after the meal: ‘The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity’. The point of the knife allows meat or bread to be skewered and offered to a fellow diner. Notation knives are extremely rare.

The interesting history of notation knives is explained here on YouTube and the music has been gloriously performed toward the end of the video. It’s only 5 minutes long . Well worth the time!



“those who wish to sing, always find a song.”

-swedish proverb


credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, AHRC, Flora Dennis, University of Sussex

104 responses »

  1. I worked at a high-end auction house for a few years and saw many wonderful things, but I have never seen these before. They are beautiful in their purpose and creativity. And we thought we had something going on when we invented the “spork”!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. that was a fascinating video; the knives were bigger than I had pictured them when I first saw your photo. And how exciting that some of the knives are in Philadelphia! And what a beautiful performance at the end. I was also intrigued by the idea that people used to have squires cut their meat for them…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a beautiful piece of history preserved and brought to life! Thank you for digging into this and sharing, Beth. I wonder, like one of the folks who commented on the video, is this what was meant by “singing for one’s supper”?

    Liked by 2 people

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