"Prayer prepares us for mysticism,
mysticism for meditation and concentration,
and from that point on we are directed
to the real work of spiritual research."
— Rudolf Steiner, PRAYER
(Anthroposophic Press, 1977), p. 20.
including “Morning Verses”,
Graces, and Prayers for the Dead
Here are two prayers, written by Rudolf Steiner, that students in many Waldorf schools recite each morning, usually chanting them in unison with their teachers. Various translations are used in Waldorf schools in the English-speaking world; I will take the texts from the book PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), which consists of multiple prayers Steiner composed.
The use of these prayers demonstrates that Waldorf schools — despite frequent denials — are religious institutions. What else can we find by studying these prayers? I’ll suggest how Anthroposophical tenets peek out from within and between the lines. I will look beyond the prayers themselves to the doctrines Anthroposophists have in mind when they use such prayers. (My exposition will include links to other pages here at Waldorf Watch, where you will find extended discussions. Click on the underlined words.)
MORNING VERSE FOR THE FOUR LOWER CLASSES
“The Sun with loving light 
Makes bright for me each day;
The soul with spirit power 
Gives strength unto my limbs;
In sunlight shining clear
I reverence, O God, 
The strength of humankind, 
That thou so graciously
Hast planted in my soul,
That I with all my might
May love to work and learn. 
From Thee come light and strength,
To Thee rise love and thanks.” 
MORNING VERSE FOR THE FOUR UPPER CLASSES
“I look into the world; 
In which the Sun shines, 
In which the stars sparkle, 
In which the stones lie, 
The living plants are growing,
The animals are feeling, 
In which the soul of man
Gives dwelling for the spirit; 
I look into the soul
Which lives within myself.
God’s spirit weaves in light
Of Sun and human soul, 
In world of space, without,
In depths of soul, within.
God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee 
I turn myself in prayer, 
That strength and blessing grow 
In me, to learn and work.” 
 How can the Sun, a ball of flaming gases, send “loving” light? Steiner taught that Christ is the Sun God who came to Earth. In this sense, the Sun has sent us the loving light of Christ's spirit. The Sun's loving beneficence is the great spiritual truth enabling human evolution, according to Steiner. (A grace often used in Waldorf schools — we'll get to it — addresses "Father Sun." This is the Sun God, although the kids may not be told so. In general, Anthroposophy portrays the Sun as the embodiment of Christ and the home of various Sun spirits, including the archangel Michael.)
 Why is there reference to both soul and spirit? In Anthroposophy, these are not the same. The soul is an inner spiritual element of each human, revised and altered during the process of reincarnation. The spirit, on the other hand, is an unchanging spiritual essence coming from the mighty spirit realm.
 Note that the children address God. They are praying.
 What is the strength of humankind? It is our spiritual capacity to rise into the spirit realm (Steiner said we can do this through eurythmy, for instance — most Waldorf schools require eurythmy). The strength of humankind is also our ability to reincarnate and evolve to higher and higher states of consciousness. No other creature on or in the Earth can do this — we have a spiritual ego, an “I”, whereas animals and such beings as gnomes (which Steiner said live in the earth — really) do not have "I"s.
 The main forms of work and learning stressed by Steiner entail the arduous tasks of spiritual “science” — Steiner's new religion, which he called Anthroposophy (meaning human wisdom). Waldorf schools are often weak academically, in part because they focus on implanting Anthroposophical attitudes and beliefs rather than academic knowledge, which Steiner disparaged as the product of dead materialistic thinking.
 The importance of light (the “loving” light of the Sun, i.e., Christ) is reinforced here, and the prayerful nature of this “verse” is underscored by the love and thanks offered to God.
 Looking "into" the world is quite different from looking at it. Looking "into" suggests looking within, under the surface of apparent reality. This would be fine, except that Waldorf teachers often think that below the surface are gnomes, Norse gods who are alive and well, and so on: occult beliefs that they often convey, one way or another, to their students. A second meaning of looking "into" the world involves alienation. Steiner taught that there are at least two "higher worlds," the soul world and the spirit world. Waldorf students, even if they are not explicitly informed of this doctrine, are urged to feel themselves separate from the world around them, the physical universe. The students do not look around themselves at the real world, they look "into" the real world from a vantage point outside it (specifically, the vantage point of the enclosed, insular, "higher" Waldorf community — as it were, a higher world).
 Like the prayer recited by younger children, this one gives priority to the Sun (implicitly Christ, the Sun God). In this case, the reference may pass casual inspection, since there is no reference to the Sun’s “love” or any other overtly religious concept. Indeed, various lines in both prayers may seem unobjectionable — they seem more or less consistent with a conventional worldview. Concealment, as Steiner himself said, which was part of Steiner's objective. The prayers, like the entire Waldorf curriculum, have Anthroposophical content, but measures are taken to disguise this.
 This line, too, is or seems innocuous; It maybe recited without stirring Anthroposophy within a child’s soul. Still, we should note in passing that Steiner said all stars, not just the Sun, are the dwelling places of spirits; and he advocated astrology, as when using the stars in casting horoscopes.
 Some schools use the word “repose” instead of “lie”. The Waldorf school I attended did. Why would they? Steiner taught that stones are alive, at least in that they are part of the Earth, which he said is alive, breathing in or out every six months or so. To be precise: "The maha-para-nirvana plane [is where] the solid stone has its life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 93a.
 The Waldorf attitude toward nature is complex. Plants and animals are our fellow beings who should be respected; but the natural world is also a place of illusion, temptation, and subhuman nature spirits. Thus, Waldorf students are taught to look kindly on animals and plants but also to consider themselves far superior to the natural world. According to Steiner, plants, animals, and humans all etheric bodies (nonphysical “bodies” that infuse our physical bodies); animals and humans also have astral bodies; but only humans have “I”s, which are sparks of divinity. Only we are capable of evolving toward divinity. The inferiority of animals is shown, for instance, by their lack of any real capacity for thought or even memory — in this sense, they resemble subhumans who also lack "I"s and who can only remember words, not sentences.
Are Waldorf students taught doctrines such as these? The answer varies from school to school and teacher to teacher. Waldorf students usually pick up at least vague intimations of these beliefs. I did.
 Now the prayer begins to place Anthroposophical concepts at its surface. These two lines differentiate between soul and spirit — see note #2, above. The soul is the particular spiritual nature you have during a single incarnation. It creates a dwelling place for your spirit — your eternal spiritual identity that becomes manifest during your Earthly lives and also during your lives in the spirit realm, between incarnations.
I apologize for the syntactical flaws in the prayer; this is how it appears in PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN. A more felicitous translation would perhaps be
I look into the world
In which the Sun shines,
In which the stars sparkle,
In which the stones lie,
Where the living plants are growing,
Where the animals are feeling,
And where the soul of man
Provides a dwelling for the spirit...
 The distinction between soul and spirit is repeated, and the light of the Sun is mentioned again. Significantly, there is also a reference to “God’s spirit”. Although Steiner taught that a monotheistic God may exist one day, at present we live in a polytheistic universe, swarming with gods, both good gods and evil gods. Young children are given a prayer that addresses “God” because a sole god is an easy concept for young minds to grasp. But here, the older children are nudged toward a more sophisticated Anthroposophical concept. “God’s spirit” is the divine impulse, not yet perfectly realized in the One True God. This spirit can be found almost everywhere, including within one's own soul. Someday, we will transform ourselves "into what is called in Christianity 'the Father'", as Steiner put it. — Rudolf Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17.
Some schools use an alternate wording:
In sunlight and in soul-light,
In cosmic space without,
In depths of soul within.
Again, these are words I think I remember reciting. What is soul light (or "light...of human soul")? "Soul light" has a specific meaning in Theosophy and, by extension, in Anthroposophy. "The fifth level of the soul world is the level of soul light." — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 119. The soul world is the realm our souls access, whereas our spirits access the spirit world. Soul light is the clarity attainable in the soul world. But Theosophy does not put sufficient emphasis on Christ, Steiner decided, so in Anthroposophy he sought to correct this error. Our souls can shed light when they are activated by the Christ Impulse, the spiritual impetus that enables us to be like Christ. Also, our souls shed light through the faculty of clairvoyance (which in Waldorf schools is prepared for, theoretically, through emphasis on imagination, intuition, and inspiration).
 Some versions of this prayer refer to “Creator spirit” instead of “spirit of God.” The point is much the same as above — a spirit exists, but it is not the God of Western monotheism. Indeed, in Anthroposophy, there is no single Creator as seen in the Bible; certainly Jehovah is not the Creator. A creative spirit — the Godhead — flows through the many good gods, who participate in the process of creation and evolution, but Jehovah did not create the universe. Jehovah is just one of several “Elohim.”
 Here, the verse explicitly refers to itself as a prayer. Some schools disguise this by substituting such words as
To Thee, Creator Spirit,
I turn myself to ask...
My memory is that we used these alternate words at the Waldorf school I attended. It is significant, however, that the Anthroposophical Press uses the word “prayer”. (The original German is “Will bittend ich mich wenden” meaning “pleadingly I want to turn” to you “Zu Dir, O Gottesgiest”, meaning “to you, O spirit of God”.)
 The students ask for blessing from God or God's spirit. They are praying.
 The prayer ends with references to learning and work, as did the previous prayer. See note #6, above.
If you think I may have strained too hard to find hidden meanings in and behind these prayers, I would just ask you to remember who wrote them: Rudolf Steiner, the father of Anthroposophy. And remember whom he wrote them for: students in Waldorf schools. Steiner said this about such schools: “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophical Press, 1998), p. 705. Waldorf schools have an "Anthroposophical character", and their goals coincide with those of Anthroposophy. The prayers I have quoted are Anthroposophical; I didn't inject Anthroposophical meanings into them; Steiner put those meanings in them. Any school that requires students to recite these prayers is, for this reason alone, an Anthroposophical religious institution. And any school that permits recitation of these prayers, or that promotes them in any other fashion, probably is as well. [There is much additional evidence underscoring the religious nature of Waldorf schooling. See, e.g., "Here's the Answer", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Soul School".]
One other point worth noting: PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN ends with a lecture by Steiner: "Life between Birth and Death as a Mirror of Life between Death and New Birth." Complete with diagrams, the lecture lays out some of Steiner's thoughts about reincarnation, arguing that our life here on Earth reflects our previous life in the spirit realm. To most people's minds, what he says is loony, e.g., “What takes place between conception and birth is in reality the interaction between sun and moon, and this is essentially a repetition of events which took place earlier during the Old Moon period of the earth." — Ibid., p. 63. Steiner's ideas about life, and childhood, and education are irredeemably occultist. “[B]irth is a repetition of the influence of the Old Sun. Things which occur even before that, which are reflected in the period when we are educated, are a repetition of the Old Saturn stage of the earth." — Ibid., p. 63. Such concepts lie in the background of Waldorf prayers.
Waldorf teachers see their work as a form of ministry. They work in service to the gods of their polytheistic faith. "We [Waldorf teachers] want to be aware that physical existence is a continuation of the spiritual, and that what we have to do in education is a continuation of what higher beings [the gods] have done without our assistance. Our form of educating can have the correct attitude only when we are aware that our work with young people is a continuation of what higher beings have done before birth [i.e., before the students' births]." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37.
In Waldorf belief, the period of education on Earth is deemed to be a repetition of the ancient evolutionary phase called Old Saturn. Cosmic powers — gods of the planets, gods of the stars, gods steering the course of evolution — are at work all about us and within us, and our earthly lives unfold in response to powers coming from far beyond the Earth. "[T]he only way to comprehend [students] during their upbringing is if there is a clear understanding that forces are at work on them during their life as a whole which are not on earth, which are not even in the planetary system [i.e., solar system] but which lie outside the planetary sphere and work in harmony with the stars." — Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN, pp. 60-61. These are the powers who are addressed, directly and indirectly, in Waldorf prayers.
[PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 61.]
Have I read too much into the prayers we have seen? Perhaps. Much of what I have explained stands behind the prayers, it is not explicitly in the prayers themselves. Few Waldorf students comprehend the details of Anthroposophical doctrine. But the ideas I have laid out are fully present in the belief system embraced by initiated Waldorf teachers. When they use prayers written by Rudolf Steiner — two of which they require their students to recite — such teachers have these beliefs in mind. These are the beliefs they would like their students to affirm someday if — as is hoped — they enter the ranks of Rudolf Steiner's followers.
— Roger Rawlings
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004.]
Waldorf student art courtesy of PLANS [http://waldorfcritics.org/]
Prayers serve at least two purposes in Waldorf schooling.
One is to address and thank the gods.
The other is to set the students' feet on the path toward Anthroposophy,
which is often referred to as "spiritual science" —
i.e., the true, reverent method of conducting research into the spirit realm,
thereby gaining gnosis or occult spiritual wisdom.
"Prayer prepares us for mysticism,
mysticism for meditation and concentration,
and from that point on we are directed to the real work of spiritual research."
— Rudolf Steiner, PRAYER (Anthroposophic Press, 1977), p. 20.
Steiner presented an overview of occult wisdom in his book
OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE
He indicated how to acquire occult wisdom in his book
KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT
[see "Knowing the Worlds"].
In addition to prayers meant to be intoned at the start of each Waldorf school day,
Steiner wrote other prayers for his followers to use.
These sometimes show up in Waldorf schools, as well.
[See, e.g., "He Went to Waldorf", section 1, subsection 4.]
Here are some samples:
The plant roots quicken in the night of the earth,
The leaves unfold through the might of the air,
The fruit grows ripe through the power of the sun.
So quickens the soul in the shrine of the heart,
And man’s spirit unfolds in the light of the world,
So ripens man’s strength in the glory of God.
And root and leaf and the ripe fruit’s blessing
Support the life of men on earth;
And soul and spirit upward pressing
May raise themselves in thanks to God.
— Rudolf Steiner, on p. 44 of PRAYERS AND GRACES
(Floris Books, 1996), compiled by Michael Jones.
A Prayer for the Dead
Hear our soul's request
Sent to Thee in deepest trust.
We need here for work on earth
Strength and power from spirit lands
For which we thank dead friends.
— Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS AND GRACES, p. 57.
A Prayer for Strength
(and Karma and Astrological Power)
The Soul's longings are like seeds,
Out of which deeds of will are growing
And life's fruits are ripening.
I can feel my destiny and my destiny finds me.
I can feel my star and my star finds me.
I can feel my aims and my aims are finding me.
The World and my soul are one great unity.
Life grows brighter around me
Life becomes harder for me
Life will be richer within me.
— Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS AND GRACES, p. 74.
A Prayer to the Nine Ranks of Gods
In the weaving of the ether
Man's web of destiny
Is received by Angels, Archangels, Archai.
Into the astral world
The just consequences of man's earthly life
Die into Exousiai, Dynameis, Kyriotetes.
In the essence of their deeds
The honest creations of man's earthly life
Are resurrected in Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.
— Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS AND GRACES, p. 62.
[R. R., 2010.]
Images of praying (here, Christ prays in Gethsemane)
are common in many "nondenominational" Waldorf schools.
Medieval and colored images often find special favor.
Note that this is not an example of Anthroposophical art.
Here at Waldorf Watch, I include some images and passages from non-Anthroposophical sources
in order to place Steiner's teachings in the context of broader spiritual traditions.
For more about Anthroposophical prayers,
please see "Power Words".
Steiner wrote many meditations for his followers to use.
The most important is the Foundation Stone Meditation,
which Steiner said came to him ”out of the will of the spiritual world.”
He offered the meditation to guide his followers as they undertook
the supremely important task of establishing the General Anthroposophical Society,
the central body of worldwide Anthroposophy, headquartered at the Goetheanum.
[See Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE FOUNDATION STONE MEDITATION (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2006).]
This lengthy meditation ends in what is explicitly a prayer,
addressing Christ (the Sun God) and asking for blessings:
Our heads —
That good may come,
From hearts found,
Direct with single will.
Warm and Woolly?
An anthroposophical experiment.
By Kristín A. Sandberg and Trond K.O. Kristoffersen
The Steiner movement appears ever so charming: Postman Pat’s Greendale meets the musical Hair. With its funny architecture, natural materials, soft colours and organic food they appear to be an important, valuable alternative for people who hold a child centred view of development and want only the best for their children. Green values and art! If only that were true!
However, all that glistens is not gold.
...It is a human right to believe in angels, demons and the divine visions of one single person ... The Steiner-movement bases its experiment on Rudolf Steiner’s occult visions found in the passing phase from sleep to awakening. They choose to hold obscure [i.e., conceal] their religious foundation and secure 85% state funding for an alternative science of education, even though their pedagogical methods and their whole worldview is faith-based.
The Steiner-school presents its pedagogy as independent of their religious views. This is, in fact, contrary to the actual praxis and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner himself:
“It is obvious that knowledge of the human being must be the basis for a teacher's work; that being so, he must acquire this knowledge for himself, and the natural thing will be that he acquires it through Anthroposophy. If, therefore, we are asked what the basis of a new method of education should be, our answer is: Anthroposophy must be that basis. But how many people there are, even in our own circles, who try to disclaim Anthroposophy as much as possible, and to propagate an education without letting it be known that Anthroposophy is at the back of it." 
...R. Steiner made the soul a subject of research. His research, however, was by no means scientific, in the sense we know it. Steiner had, as far as we know, no children. He never undertook any educational scientific research and he never actually taught children. Steiner teachers call this Spiritual Science. R. Steiner maintained that there were people living at the same time as the dinosaurs, and that these people were incorporeal. These revelations underpin the teaching of Steiner teachers, implying that they have a conviction that the development of the child is a microcosm of the historical development of humankind. They believe the pupils have been reincarnated from previous lives. This entails the need for children to learn about historical events at the right time so that their subconscious recognizes them from their previous lives.
The Steiner Schools claim they bring up children to be free. According to R. Steiner, and Steiner teachers themselves, anthroposophy is the only way to obtain true freedom. The so-called “experiment” of the Steiner movement exists in a very hierarchical world of ideas. The true freedom will enable you to free yourself from the vices preventing your advancement in your earthly lives. Steiner’s thoughts about reincarnation imply also the rather interesting observation that European culture, funnily enough, is seen as more advanced than other cultures. African and Asian cultures have not, as yet, reached the higher evolvement of enlightenment. But beware! This is nobody’s fault; we’ve all been there. It’s just one of those things.
We shall not dwell upon what Steiner claims about the Indians and the Jews here and now. But according to Steiner’s spiritual science some races are more developed than others due to their geographical placement on earth.
The Steiner School’s idea of differentiated teaching rests upon the teacher’s analysis of the child’s process of incarnation. This can lead to most interesting experiences for the child and the parents. If, for instance, the child does not place their foot down firmly, it means the child probably was superficial in his/ her previous life. 
Steiner teachers refer to children with ADHD or Aspergers syndrome as children with difficulties incarnating. That is, somehow a beautiful image, but oh so open to analysis... The child with ADHD is a part of the millennium mythology and struggles with forces of death (Luciferic forces). Not so beautiful, perhaps? It is ever so possible Ritalin is not the ultimate answer for all these children, but as a parent you should know that eurythmy (magical movements stimulating body and soul) seek to help your child to incarnate, and that learning difficulties or Special Educational Needs are seen as difficulties inherited from a previous life. Why does the journalist not ask about these things?
The worldview of the Steiner movement is truly experimental! Orchards and organic food are far more mainstream. Anthroposophical medicine too bases itself on an epistemy that is an alternative to a Western biological outlook; holistically alluring. Therefore head lice, measles and whooping cough flower epidemically in these communities. All is part of the development of the soul. Freedom? Experiment? They speak of children as souls with different, but mapped personalities, as if the soul itself is in fact a scientific matter only the anthroposophists can truly understand.
...Funny, isn’t it, that these Steiner Schools, unlike any other Norwegian or Swedish school, start each day with a religious prayer!
But is it always this religious? Always. Not outspoken, not declared, but always implied. In all the rituals, the celebrations, the decorations and in the teachers’ views on child development. [Nowegian Waldorf Critics, http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles.html#WalGen]
 Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD, GA 311, trans. Helen Fox. (Anthroposophic Press, 1982-1988), pp. 19-20.
Led by their teachers, students in the lower grades at Waldorf schools
often recite graces before snacks and meals.
Here's a grace that is widely used in Waldorf schools today:
Earth who gave to us this food:
Sun who made it ripe and good:
By you we live,
To you our loving thanks we give.*
— Christian Morgenstern, on p. 38 of PRAYERS AND GRACES
(Floris Books, 1996), compiled by Michael Jones.
It's a sweet little prayer — a bit pagan, but sweet.
*Here's a variation that is sometimes substituted:
Mother Earth who gives to us this food,
Father Sun who makes it ripe and good,
Blessed Earth, Blessed Sun,
We’ll not forget what you have done.
In Anthroposophical lore, Father Sun is, in effect, the Sun God
while Mother Earth is the Earth Goddess.
Details from windows at the Goetheanum.
Rudolf Steiner prescribed a special prayer to be used by Waldorf teachers
(see, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD'S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 142).
Various versions are used. Here is one:
If Waldorf schools are not religious institutions, you might wonder why images like these appear in THE WALDORF SONG BOOK (Floris Press, 1992), by Brien Masters. (I have compiled them. The three images appear on three separate pages of the songbook.)
Many of the songs in the book have no direct connection to religion. But some are intensely religious. Some can only be called hymns or sung prayers.
Here are some titles and lines from these songs:
LET US WITH GLADSOME MIND
"Let us with gladsome mind
Praise the Lord, for he is kind."
LOVE IS COME AGAIN
"Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain."
ON THIS OUR GLORIOUS EASTERTIDE
"On this our glorious Eastertide,
We sing of Him who for us has died."
ONCE ON A BRIGHT SUMMER'S DAY
"While John baptiz'd Jesus, came God's voice so free:
'On this day have I begotten Thee.'"
I BIND UNTO MYSELF TODAY
(St. Patrick's Hymn)
"I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity."
FOR ALL THE SAINTS
"For all the saints who from their labours rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confest,
Thy name, O Jesus, be for ever blest."
TOMORROW SHALL BE MY DANCING DAY
"For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance ...
Up to heaven did I ascend
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance." 
UNCONQUERED HERO OF THE SKIES
"Thine aid we pray the foe to slay, Saint Michael." 
ALLELUIA FOR ALL THINGS
"Of all created things, of earth and sky,
Of God and man, things lowly and high,
We sing this day with thankful heart and say,
Alleluia, alleluia." 
GLORY TO THE, MY GOD, THIS NIGHT
"Glory to thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light." 
The Lord of all things lives anew,
And all his works are rising too,
In nova juventute." 
ST FRANCIS' HYMN
"O most high almighty good Lord God,
To thee belong praise, glory, honour, and all blessing."
"Michaelmas time! Michaelmas time!
Time is turning under the plough,
Under the stars, under the signs." 
"Deo, Deo gratias 
To all men of good will;
There shall be peace on earth for them;
LIGHT EVER GLADSOME
"Light ever gladsome,
Of the eternal splendour supernal,
Holy and true.
Born of the Father, blest we adore thee,
Falling before thee, Christ Jesus."
THE LORD MY PASTURES SHALL PREPARE
"The Lord my pastures shall prepare,
And feed me with a shepherd's care."
O GOD OF HEAVEN, HEAR MY PRAISES
"O God in heaven, hear my praises;
Deep in my soul Thy mighty strength I feel."
LORD OF THE UNIVERSE, HEAR MY PRAYER
"Om bhur bhuv(a) svaha...." 
"Glorious Apollo from on high beheld us,
Wand'ring to find a temple for his praise...
Sing we in harmony Apollo's praise." 
I GAZE OUT O'ER THE MOONLIT EARTH
"He came, the Holy Child, and lay
in a manger cradle...
O light, once born in earth's dark night,
Make bright for us the path we tread." 
COME AND SING THIS CHRISTMAS MORN
"Come and sing this Christmas morn,
Of the Lord of earth now born...
Gloria in excelsis Deo." 
THE SECOND WALDORF SONG BOOK (Floris Press, 1993), compiled by Brien Masters, offers more of the same. Again, not all of the songs are hymns or prayers, but a striking number are.
“With hearts aglow men mark the changing fresh world,
When from the stars Michael’s spear is hurled.
Sleepers awake, hark to the word of the world,
Breaking old Summer’s dull drowsy spell.
Show us the way, go with thy spear before,
Forge us the future, Thou Michael.” 
Dominus Deus Sabaoth,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.” 
SANS DAY CAROL
“Now as white as the milk;
Who was wrapp’d up in silk.
And Mary bore Jesus Christ,
And the first tree in the greenwood,
It was the holly.
The first tree in the wood was the holly.” 
STILL, STILL, STILL
“Great, great, great,
Is the light that shines on earth;
For God hath left the heavens’ high throne,
On earth to dwell, for Man to share glory.” 
THE SEVEN JOYS OF MARY
“The first good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of one;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
When he was first her son,
Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.”
THE MANTLE OF ST. JOHN
“The mantle of St. John
On the Baptist’s Day,
Morning breaks the hills upon
The mantle of the Baptist,
The mantle of the Baptist’s Day;
Come forth the day of the Baptist,
For the mantle of St. John.” 
MARIA IM DORNWALD
“Thus Mary waited for her child,
The thoughts she pondered in her heart
Bridg’d heaven and earth, so long apart:
Jesus ex Maria.” 
THREE KINGS OF ORIENT
"Glorious now, behold him arise,
King and God, and sacrifice
Heav’n sings alleluia,
Alleluia, the earth replies:
O star of wonder, start of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading still proceeding,
Guide us with they perfect light.” 
ST. PATRICK’S BREASTPLATE
“I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to see, his might to stay,
His ear to harken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide.,his shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heav’nly host to be my guard.” 
ZACCHAEUS AND THE SYCAMORE TREE
“And as the Lord came by,
The beauty in his eyes
He raised towards the shade,
Beneath the sun-filled skies.
“’Zacchaeus, come below
To welcome me as guest
For in your heart I’ll lodge
To bring you joy and rest.’” 
SANKT MICHAELS LIED
‘The heavenly banner thou dost bear, Saint Michael;
The angels do thine armor wear;
Thine aid we pray,
The foe to slay,
Saint Michael.” 
PASSIONTIDE CAROL FROM ODENWALD
“O Son, dearest Son
O dearest Jesu mine,
What will become of you on Sunday?
On Sunday I shall be king
And decked in royal robes
And strewn, strewn with palms.” 
CHORUS FROM TELEMANN’S ST LUKE PASSION
“Now sorrow wring the heart with grief!
Sorrow, sorrow now!
Now sorrow wring the heart with grief!
He who once gave the blind new vision
Is now the victim of derision;
Thorn-press’d, thorn-press’d his kingly reign so brief.
Oh sorrow wring the heart with grief!
Sorrow, sorrow now!
Now sorrow wring the heart with grief!
He whose salt tears for all people were flowing,
Now with his cross to Golgotha going;
He for whose blood the mob was baying,
For their forgiveness now is praying,
Nailed to the tree without life nor leaf,
To the tree, too the tree without life or leaf.
Such sorrow wrings the heart with grief!
Sorrow, sorrow now!
Now sorrow wring the heart with grief!” 
“When I hold him ever,
When He’s truly mine,
When my heart, forgetting never,
Trusts till death His faith divine,
Sorrow cannot hold me,
Then devotion, joy and love enfold me.” 
THE SUN IN EASTER RISING
“So sing the triumph of our Lord:
The word made flesh; the flesh made word;
Made word with spirit winging;
Earth like a star up-springing.
Empty tomb in the rising light,
Our sleep awaking:
Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia." 
“Thank ye the Lord on His high Throne,
And praise his holy name;
Goodness and strength
Flow from His hand;
He at the end of time will stand;
His chosen folk He then will claim.
Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia.” 
“Ecce sacerdos magnus,
Ecce sacerdos magnus,
Qui in diebus suis,
Qui in diebus suis placuit Deo.” 
“Here on the waters,
Bathed in the moonlight,
Zephyrs stir softly,
Waves gently lapping;
Yet never doubting,
Trustful and trusting,
Santa Luccia.” 
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENACHERIB
“And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the Might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.” 
 "Alleluia," a variant of "hallelujah," means "God be praised."
 The entire text of this song consists of the word "Alleluia" repeated 10 times.
 Judas is the apostle who betrayed Christ, leading to Christ's Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection on Easter. In this song, spoken in the first person by Christ, the god came to Earth and then ascended in order to lead humanity into the general or universal celebration involving all redeemed beings and gods. "Sure substance" is eternal, redeemed holy essence.
 Some Christians pray to various saints and other beings (angels, archangels) in addition to God. Other Christians consider this heretical. Anthroposophists pray to many gods, who include virtually all beings higher than man — angels, archangels, Norse gods, etc. Here Waldorf students are being led in a prayer to Michael, the Archangel of the Sun. In Anthroposophical doctrine, Michael is Christ's champion — that is, the spiritual warrior who fights on behalf of the Sun God. The "foe" is often taken to be Ahriman and/or Lucifer, but in his most dreadful form he is Sorat, the Antichrist, otherwise known as the Demon of the Sun.
 This song was written by Anthroposophist A. C. Harwood, who founded the first Waldorf school in England — significantly named Michael Hall.
 In Anthroposophical doctrine, the "light" is the occult knowledge made accessible to us by the Sun God and His champion, Michael. [See "Sun God", "Michael", "Was He Christian?" and "Gnosis".]
 "Sanctus" means "holy." This is the entire text of this song.
 "In nova juventute" means "In the new [or young] age." For Anthroposophists, this means the new evolutionary period begun by the actions of the Sun God after he came to Earth.
 Michaelmas is a major festival in Waldorf schools because of Michael's association with Christ. Note that in this song, we find indications of the astrological beliefs that are so important in Anthroposophy: Michaelmas comes with the annual turning of time, returning previous years' stars and signs to ascendancy ("under the stars, under the signs"). [See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".]
 "Deo gratias" means "thanks be to God." Note that there will be peace on Earth for all the good men. The evil men, however, must be scourged in what Steiner called "The War of All Against All" [see "All v. All"]. Good humans will have no real peace until that terrible war is over.
 This song is identified as an ancient Indian chant. Anthroposophy includes many doctrines taken from Gnostic Christianity, but also doctrines taken (generally by way of Theosophy) from Hinduism. Thus, THE WALDORF SONG BOOK also includes a song about karma or destiny: THE VEIL OF DESTINY IS DRAWN. Such songs, like the next one, may seem to simply reflect a commendable openness to world cultures. But they are also expressions of specific Anthroposophical beliefs. [See, e.g., "Karma".]
 Apollo is the Sun God. Thus, he is the same divine being as Christ. For Christians, such a statement is blasphemous. But it is accepted doctrine among Anthroposophists. In Waldorf belief, a song sung in praise of Apollo is actually a hymn sung to Christ, the Sun God.
 Note again that Christ is equated with light. The Sun brings us light, and the Sun God brings us the "light" of occult wisdom.
 In Anthroposophical doctrine, Christ the Sun God became Lord of the Earth when His blood flowed into the Earth. According to how one interprets various Anthroposophical texts, Christ either remained on the Earth, or ascended to Heaven, or returned to the Sun. The Christian doctrine, of course, is that Christ ascended to Heaven. "Gloria in excelsis Deo" means "Glory to God in the highest".
 The “word of the world” is God’s Word, the Bible.
 The lyrics, translated from Latin, are "The Holy One, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts, Lord God of Hosts.” The “hosts” are the legions of angels or, in Anthroposophical doctrines, gods.
 "Sans Day" is a reference to St. Day, the place in Cornwall where this carol was first sung. The Druids celebrated holly as a symbol of fertility and eternal life. Early Christians adopted this, making holly a central Christmas ornament. The pointed holly leaves are said to represent the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on his way to Calvary, and the red berries represent Jesus’s blood, shed at Calvary. In Germany, holly is called Christdorn, or the thorn of Christ.
 Steiner taught that Christ descended from the Sun to impart the “Christ impulse” — an energy and direction for mankind’s further evolution. We will "share glory" when we enact this impulse. According to Steiner, man is the center of the universe and will evolve to become God the Father.
 The term “St. John” is usually applied to the apostle, John, but it is also sometimes applied to John the Baptist. The Baptist prepared the way for a greater spiritual leader: Jesus. "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'" [John 1:23] The Baptist’s day, or the feast of St. John, is June 24.
 The title, in German, means Mary in the Forest of Thorns. The Latin phrase “Kyrie Eleison” means “Lord, have mercy”; “Jesus ex Maria” means “Jesus, out of [or born of] Mary.”
 This is a traditional Christmas carol, telling of the three kings who followed the Star to Bethlehem to discover the infant Jesus. Steiner taught that the East once offered mankind great spiritual wisdom, but it has been supplanted by higher wisdom found now in the West, specifically in the gnostic, Rosicrucian/Anthroposophical doctrines originating in Germany (i.e., Steiner's own teachings).
 St. Patrick was the bishop and patron saint of Ireland. He brought Christianity to the Picts and Anglo-Saxons, but he was in constant danger of being martyred by Irish pagans. Patrick’s armor was his faith in God.
 This song relates an incident from Luke 19:4. To see over a crowd in hopes of catching a glimpse of Jesus, Zacchaeus — a tax collector — climbed a tree. Jesus called him down and befriended him, which shocked many in the crowd since tax collectors were generally reviled.
 This is yet another hymn that addresses St. Michael. “Lied,” in German, means “song.”
 Passiontide consists of the last two weeks of Lent — period of fasting and penitence before Easter. Palm fronds are carried on Palm Sunday to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Odenwald is a mountain range in Germany.
 In Christianity, the Passion is Christ’s suffering before and during his Crucifixion. This song relates the Apostle Luke’s version of the Passion. Christ, who cured the blind, is the victim of a howling mob; bearing the cross, with a crown of thorns on His head, He is mocked as He staggers toward the place of His execution. But even as He is nailed to the cross, He asks God to forgive the people, for they know not what they do. [Luke 23:34] Golgotha is Calvary; Steiner preferred “Golgotha” to the more common “Calvary.”
 “He” is Jesus.
 In some Christian teachings, Christ is considered the Word of God made flesh — the physical incarnation of the contents of the Bible. Christ is also associated with light: He brings us the Light of God’s Word. The reference to the Sun has extra meaning in Anthroposophy, since Steiner taught that Christ is the Sun God. The tomb is Jesus's burial place; it became empty when Jesus rose from the dead.
 Most holy songs used in Waldorf schools are distinctly Christian, but some are not. This is a relatively rare instance of an Old Testament — i.e., Hebrew — text sung by Waldorf students.
 Translated from Latin, the lyrics are “Behold the high priest, Behold the great priest, Who in his days, Who in his days pleased God.” It may not be irrelevant to note that Waldorf teachers believe they fill a priestly office. "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23.
 Santa Luccia or Lucia is St. Lucy, a Christian martyr. The story of her physical mutilation is, like the stories of many saints, harrowing. Her feast day is December 13.
 Senacherib was an Assyrian king who tried to conquer Jerusalem but was thwarted by the Angel of the Lord [2 Kings 18:13]. Baal was a pagan fertility god. This is another song based on an Old Testament story. Such stories are stressed in the 3rd grade Waldorf curriculum, when students are deemed to stand at the appropriate level of evolutionary development. The Waldorf interpretation of such stories is often surprising, veering far from the Bible. [See “Old Testament”.]
[WALDORF SCHOOL TABLE GRACES, compiled by Casse Waldman Forczek
(Konocti Springs Studio, 2012).]
The bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College identifies this as one of their most popular offerings.
Most parents probably would not object to having their children recite innocuous-seeming graces in school.
The matter may seem somewhat different, however, when you note that children in Waldorf schools
are continually led in prayers, graces, and hymns — throughout the day, week, month, and year.
Waldorf schools are religious institutions, pervaded by a distinctive spiritualistic atmosphere.
These schools are suitable for your children only if you subscribe to the distinctive
religious beliefs embodied in the schools — the beliefs of Anthroposophy.
Here are some of the graces given in
WALDORF SCHOOL TABLE GRACES:
This food was gathered for our
Food from the Sun's eternal
We break this bread together
With hearts aware,
Not bread alone
But God's Life
& Love we share
— A. C. Harwood, p. 6.
Earth who gave to us this food
Sun who made it ripe and good:
By you we live,
To you our loving thanks we give.
— Christian Morgenstern, p. 7.
We thank the water,
earth and air
For all the healthy
Powers they bear
We thank the people,
Loving and good
Who grow & cook
Our daily food.
And now at last
We thank the sun,
The light and life
— origin unknown, p. 13.
The plant seeds are quickened
in the night of the earth
The green herbs are sprouting
through the might of the Air
And all the fruits are ripened
by the power of the Sun.
So quickens the Soul
in the shrine of the Heart
So blossoms Spirit-power
in the Light of the World
So ripens Man's strength
in the Glory of God.
— adapted from Rudolf Steiner, pp. 14-15.
[R. R., 2010.]
Behold the Sun
...The heights reveal
The Gods' eternal Word...
...Living in darkness,
Create a Sun....
— Rudolf Steiner,
"Christ stands before us, the Spirit Being who, through the Mystery of Golgotha, united Himself with the Earth. And He says to us: Be not dismayed that the Sun has become black; it is black because I, the God of the Sun, am no longer in it; for I have come down and united myself with the Earth." — Rudolf Steiner, PLANETARY SPHERES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 218.
Q. If Anthroposophy is a religion, where are its churches?
A. Virtually every Anthroposophic structure is, in effect, a church — including each Waldorf school.
Here is Rudolf Steiner addressing the teachers at the first Waldorf school: “Let us think of a prayer. The children should, when asked to learn a prayer, be urged to be in a mood of devotion. It is up to us to see to this. We must almost feel a horror if we teach the children a prayer without first establishing this mood of reverence or devotion. And they should never say a prayer without this mood.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS - Eight Lectures Given to the Teachers of the Stuttgart Waldorf School (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69.
Why do Waldorf teachers teach children prayers? Because they deem themselves to be priests.* And Waldorf schools thus become, in effect, churches — places of devotion, reverence, and worship.
[See "Schools as Chruches".]
*"The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life ... Our task is to ferry into earthly life the aspect of the child that came from the divine spiritual world." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23.
And what religion is practiced in Waldorf churches by Waldorf priests? Anthroposophy. "[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706.
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 9. WALDORF AND RELIGION ◊◊◊
You may also want to consult a few essays
posted in the first section of Waldorf Watch:
If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here,
you might begin by consulting the following resources:
THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY
THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA
WALDORF WATCH INDEX
WALDORF WATCH TABLE OF CONTENTS