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Invocation by Rabbi Samuel Sale at the Republican National Convention (16 June 1896)


Contribute a translationSource (English)
Gracious Father,
fountain of life and light,
we seek Thy presence
and implore Thy guidance
in the tasks and toils before us.
O Thou who art enthroned in the soul of men
and who ruleth the destinies of nations,
deny to us not,
but show forth Thy wondrous ways
in this assemblage of Thy people.
Harken unto Thy servants,
the bondmen of freedom.
Pour upon them,
in their service of truth and honor,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of kindness and of strength,
the spirit of knowledge.
May righteousness be the girdle of their loins
and faithfulness the girdle of their minds,
so that they may manfully discharge
the sacred duties of this gathering,
so as to further the well-being of the people
and to safeguard the honor and integrity
of the Nation.
Kindle anew the hearts of our generation
with the high aims that inspired the minds
of the founders of our Republic,
and, above all, illuminate and immortalize
the life of the Father of His Country.
Fill us with a deep and abiding sense
of the transcendent dignity and nobility
of American citizenship
and sacred obligations which should always attend it,
so that from day to day
we may grow in the habit of civic virtue,
and that our beloved land,
from hundred-harbored Maine
to the vine-clad hills of the Golden Gate,
from the ice-bound North
to the warm and sunny South,
may go from strength to strength,
until it achieves its destiny
to become the shining mark
for every bark bound
for the haven of law and liberty.
Let not the grandeur and glory of our past
be dimmed in the present,
and may we never be put to shame and grief
by the worship of gods of gold and silver.
Let us all aspire now
and at all times
to show an admiring world
how good and lovely it is
for brethren to dwell together
in harmony.
Prosper, then, the work of this council,
convened in the cause of the people,
and when its message goes forth over the land,
may its “golden ring”
bring to all hearts the glad assurance
that prosperity will brighten our homes.

The opening prayer for the Republican National Convention in St. Louis on 16 June 1896 was offered by Rabbi Samuel Sale, and published on the first and fifth pages of the New York Times, “A Listless Opening.” After the Panic of 1896, Rabbi Sales reference to a “golden ring” resonated with Republican partisans committed to adopting gold as the lone standard for redeeming money in the United States. (Democrats were uniting behind an alternate platform of “free silver.”) The novelty of a rabbi delivering the opening prayer of the convention combined with this advocacy inspired antisemitic conspiracists among the “silverists” who denounced Sale and the Republicans as tools of Baron Rothschild. The following is excerpted from “After the Convention” in The New York Times (21 June 1896), page 2:

Some of the current newspaper history compels the conclusion that the campaign in silver communities is to be one of many roorbacks. Prejudice against all men who deal with money and credit as if they were commodities, is likely to be fostered by a little paragraph in to-day’s St. Louis Republic purporting to be an explanation of the selection of Rabbi Sale to be the prayermaker for the opening of the convention. A delegate named Burchell, from Colorado, who participated with Mr. Teller in the bolt, is reported as having seen a telegram from Baron Rothschild, in London, to Chairman Carter asking that a Hebrew be chosen to deliver the opening prayer.

The cable dispatch could not be found later on, for the man who showed it was unknown, but all the silver men are said to have heard the story about it, and even the very particular and circumstantial report that the Rothschilds were following the convention so closely that they know it to be the practice to open with prayer, and that the prayer time had arrived, This story, of course, belittles the theory that a Hebrew was chosen to avoid offense to the A.P.A., but does not account for Carter’s mistake in choosing a Democrat instead of a Republican Hebrew, nor does it palliate the Rabbi’s remarks about the “golden” message of the convention to the country.

For the story behind Rabbi Sale’s selection, find this 2012 article by Dr. Jonathan Sarna at the Forward.


A Listless Opening – Rabbi [Samuel] Sale Prays [at the Republican National Convention in St. Louis, 16 June] (NY Times, 17 June 1896), p. 1

A Listless Opening – Rabbi [Samuel] Sale Prays [at the Republican National Convention in St. Louis, 16 June] (NY Times, 17 June 1896), p. 5




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