הנותן תשועה | Prayer for the Government of the United States of America, presented by Gershom Seixas on Thanksgiving Day 1789

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Partial Reconstructed Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

הַנּוֺתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה לַמְּלָכִים
וּמֶמְשָּׂלָה לֲנְּסִיכִים
מַלְכוּתְךָ וּמֶמְשֶׁלְתְּךָ כָּל־עֹלָמִים
הַפּוֹצֶה אֶת דָּוִד עַבְדּוֹ מֵחֶרֶב רָעָה
הַנּוֹתֵן בַּיַם דֶרֶךְ
וּבְמַיִם עַזִּים נְתִיבָה
הוּא יְבָרֵךְ וְיִשְׁמוֺר וְיַעֲזוֺר וִיגַדֵּל
וִינַשֵּׂא לְמַֽעְלָה לְמַֽעְלָה
May he that dispenseth salvation unto Kings,
and dominion unto princes;
whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
that delivered his servant David from the destructive sword;
that maketh a way in the sea,
and a path through the mighty waters:
Bless, preserve, guard, assist,
and supremely exalt to the highest degree,
the President and Vice-President of the Union,
the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America;
the Governor,
the Lieutenant Governor,
the People of this State represented in Senate and Assembly,
with the Judges and Magistrates of this city;
and all Kings and Potentates in alliance with these States.

הַמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים בְּרַחֲמָיו
יִשְׁמְרֶהוּ וִיחַיֵיהוּ וּמִכָּל צָרָה וָנֶזֶק יַצִילֵהוּ׃
May the Supreme King of Kings, through his infinite mercies,
preserve them, and grant them life, and deliver them from all manner of trouble and danger.
May he fix and establish them in their several departments in peace and tranquility.
May the Supreme King of Kings implant among them amity, brotherly love and Peace.
Let not their lips speak evil, nor their tongues utter deceit.[1]Cf. Job 27:4

May the Supreme King of Kings, through his infinite mercies,
impart his divine wisdom to the Rulers of these States;
and grant them a spirit of just counsel,
so that they may be enabled to support their determinations with wisdom and judgment;
and may peace ever subsist between them and the Kings and Potentates in alliance with them;
and establish to them a covenant of peace until time shall be no more,
so that nation shall not lift up their sword against nation,
neither shall they make war any more.[2]Cf. Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3
Amen.

Grant it thus, O Lord!
for the sake of thy great and ineffable name
and for the sake of thy people, and thine inheritance,
who offereth up their supplications to thee whose seat is in heaven,
invoking thee to hasten and let thy tender mercies anticipate our prayers,
for we are greatly deficient and undeserving;
incline thine ear and hearken,
and do not despise our unworthiness nor our cry unto thee.

We beseech thee,
O most gracious father and merciful King, to whom peace pertaineth,
that thou wilt long cause us to enjoy a firm peace and tranquility;
and as thou hast been pleased to establish us in peace,
to spread over us thy tabernacle of peace everlasting,[3]from the Arvit (evening) Shabbat prayer השכיבנו (Hashkivenu) 
and speedily effectuate,
that among us may be heard “the voice of him who bringeth glad tidings,”[4]Isaiah 52:7. 
announcing that “the redeemer cometh to Zion.”[5]Isaiah 59:20. 
So be it thy will,
and we will say Amen.

This “Prayer for the Government, etc. etc.” by K.K. Shearith Israel can be found in A Religious Discourse Delivered in the Synagogue in this City, on Thursday the 26th November, 1789. Agreeable to the Proclamation of the President of the United States of America, to be Observed as a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. By the Reverend Mr. Gershom Seixas. The pamphlet explains that the special service was, “performed in the synagogue…conformable to a recommendation of Congress, passed the 3rd October last, to be observed as a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer.” (Thank you to Robert Kaiser for bringing our attention to this pamphlet.) The Thanksgiving Proclamation of President George Washington to which this Prayer for the Government was adapted in response, was declared as follows:

Thanksgiving Proclamation
[New York, 3 October 1789] By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

The order of services included the recitation of special psalms for the day. The order of the service, which must have also included Shaḥarit, is listed as follows:

  1. Psalms 95:1-3
  2. The entirety of Psalms 30, Psalms 33, Psalms 46, Psalms 54, and Psalms 121
  3. The “Discourse” (i.e., the sermon)
  4. Psalms 124
  5. A Prayer for the Rulers of the United States, etc. (i.e. the Prayer for the Government)
  6. A Prayer for the Congregation, etc. (not included in the pamphlet)
  7. Psalms 116, Psalms 117, Psalms 118, Psalms 138, and Psalms 67
  8. “The conclusion of a Festival Morning Service, from Kol Israel to the end of Adon Olam.”
  9. A Prayer, by the Ḥazzan.

Source(s)

George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Notes   [ + ]

1. Cf. Job 27:4
2. Cf. Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3
3. from the Arvit (evening) Shabbat prayer השכיבנו (Hashkivenu)
4. Isaiah 52:7.
5. Isaiah 59:20.

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