Prayers, congratulations and bellringing for royal baby

An easel stands in the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace in London to announce the birth of a baby boy, at 4.24pm on 22 Jully to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at St Mary's Hospital(PA)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, and other church leaders have joined the world in sending their messages of congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their baby boy yesterday.

The royal baby was born at 16:24 at St Mary's, Paddington, on Monday, weighing 8lb 6oz. He has not yet been named.

"I am delighted to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of their baby boy," said Archbishop Welby.

"Along with millions here and around the world, I share in their joy at this special time. May God bless this family with love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead."

The Church of England has published a special prayer for the royal baby:

God our Creator,
 who knows each of us by name
 and loves us from all eternity:
 we give you thanks for new life and human love.
 Bless William and Catherine
 as they welcome their son into the world.
 Give them patience and wisdom
 to cherish and love him as he grows.
 Surround the family with the light of hope and the warmth of your love today and always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said in his message of congratulations: "Today we give thanks and praise to Almighty God for the arrival of the Royal baby boy. I send my warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and also my prayers for them at this wonderful time. It is marvellous that we share in the joy and hope of a new born child, which is a great gift of our Loving Creator God. Katonda Yebazibwe: God be praised."

He has also published a special prayer for the baby boy:  

Generous God,
 Thank you for endowing the human race
 with the gift of sharing in your work of creation.
 We thank you for the Royal baby.
 May your holy angels guard and protect him.
 Give to William and Kate joy and peace
 and fill their home with the love of the Lord Jesus.

Westminster Abbey will add a special touch to the celebrations with three hours of bellringing. It is a centuries old tradition at the Abbey to ring the bells for significant royal occasions. The Abbey will ring a full peal on its ten bells starting at 2pm on Tuesday to coincide with the 41-gun salute in Green Park. The peal will comprise five thousand changes of Cambridge Surprise Royal and last for over three hours.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who conducted the wedding service of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, said: "We assure Their Royal Highnesses of our prayers and very best wishes. The birth of any child brings great joy to families and friends. This birth, of a child destined one day to be Monarch, will rightly be celebrated throughout the United Kingdom and Realms, the Commonwealth and beyond."

Elsewhere, churches and cathedrals, including Birmingham, will be saying prayers for the royal baby.

Other congratulatory messages have been sent by the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Bishop of Worcester and the Archbishop of Armagh.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster said: "The birth of the new Prince will be a source of joy not only for the Royal Family but for the peoples of the United Kingdom and beyond. I assure their Royal Highnesses of the prayers and best wishes of the Catholic Church in England and Wales for their new family."

Bishop of Worcester, the Right Reverend Dr John Inge said: "I was delighted to hear about the birth of a son for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This is good news not only for the couple and the Royal Family, but for the whole nation and the Commonwealth. The young prince and his parents will be very much in my prayers. May God bless them all very richly now and in the future."

The Most Reverend Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said: "I wish to join my sincere good wishes to those of many in the Church of Ireland and beyond to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the news of the birth of their first child. The safe delivery of any new baby is a time for rejoicing and thankfulness for the parents and family and, indeed, for a wider community. I take this opportunity to wish the Duke and Duchess well as they assume the enormous privilege and responsibility of parenthood, and I pray that they will be blessed by God in cherishing their son and encouraging him in faith, and in the ways of truth and of love. We pray also for all other children born at this time, and that their parents too may know the joys of parenthood in the months and years ahead.

"I extend good wishes to the other members of the Royal Family and the Middleton family as they now give thanks for this new child, and as they look forward to enjoying the great pleasure of watching him grow and develop in the months and years ahead."

The Right Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop Of Jarrow, added his congratulations.

"Anybody who has been a parent or grandparent will know something of the joy and anxiety that the birth of a new baby brings. On behalf of the congregations of the Diocese of Durham I send our warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess on the birth of their son," he said.

"William and Kate will face particular pressures in the care and bringing up of their son and I hope that many in the North-East will be praying for them in these early days of being parents.

"Christians hold to the belief that we are all Royal children, Sons and Daughters of the King of Heaven. My prayer will be that this child may grow up knowing that he is loved not only by his family but also by the God who created him."

The Prince of Wales said in a statement that he and the Duchess of Cornwall were "overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild".

"It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy," he added.

"Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone's life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future."

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: "It is wonderful news from St Mary's, Paddington, and I am sure that right across the country, and indeed right across the Commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well.

"It is an important moment in the life of our nation but, I suppose, above all it is a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who have got a brand new baby boy.

"It has been a remarkable few years for our royal family: a royal wedding that captured people's hearts, that extraordinary and magnificent Jubilee and now this royal birth, all from a family that has given this nation so much incredible service.

"They can know that a proud nation is celebrating with a very proud and happy couple tonight."