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A Prayer for Peace After War, by Norman Corwin (1945)

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Lord God of trajectory and blast
Whose terrible sword has laid open the serpent
So it withers in the sun for the just to see,
Sheathe now the swift avenging blades with the names of nations writ on it,
And assist in the preparation of the ploughshare.

Lord God of fresh bread and tranquil mornings,
Who walks in the circuit of heaven among the worthy,
Deliver notice to the fallen young men
That tokens of orange juice and a whole egg appear now before the hungry children;
That night again falls cooling on the earth as quietly as when it leaves your hand;
That Freedom has withstood the tyrant like a Malta in a hostile sea,
And that the soul of man is surely a Sevastopol which goes down hard and leaps from ruins quickly.

Lord God of the topcoat and the living wage
Who has furred the fox against the time of winter
And stored provender of bees in summer’s brightest places,
Do bring sweet influences to bear upon the assembly line:
Accept the smoke of the milltown among the accredited clouds of the sky:
Fend from the wind with a house and a hedge, him whom you made in your image:
And permit him to pick of the tree and the flock,
That he may eat today without fear of tomorrow
And clothe himself with dignity in December.

Lord God of test-tube and blueprint
Who jointed molecules of dust and shook them till their name was Adam,
Who taught worms and stars how they could live together,
Appear now among the parliaments of conquerors and give instruction to their schemes.
Measure out new liberties so none shall suffer for his father’s color or the credo of his choice.
Post proofs that brotherhood is not so wild a dream as those who profit by postponing it pretend.
Sit at the treaty table and convoy the hopes of little peoples through expected straits,
And press into the final seal a sign that peace will come for longer than posterities can see ahead,
That man unto his fellow man shall be a friend forever.

Amen.

This “Prayer for Peace” by Norman Corwin was first published in On a Note of Triumph the most listened to radio drama of all time. The drama marked the end of World War II in Europe. It appeared, with very small changes, in The Faith of America: Readings, Songs, and Prayers for the Celebration of American Holidays (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1951), p.103-105 — as one of a collection of civic prayers and readings for Memorial Day in the United States. The last stanza was included in Shaarei Tefila: Gates of Prayer, The New Union Prayerbook (1975). –Aharon Varady

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