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Prayer after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by Rabbi Sabato Morais (18 April 1865)


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Omnipotent God!
not for our sake, not for our sake,
but for that of Thy Infinite mercy,
be with us in our woeful calamity.
We dare not rely upon man’s strength,
which continually faileth,
for “man withereth like grass,
he fleeth like a shadow,
and we see him no more.”[1] Cf. Job 14:2 and Psalms 102:12 
But upon Thine arm do we lean,
for that which supporteth the whole universe,
will also be our stay.
Oh! guide us with Thy wisdom,
and show us,
amid the gloom wherein we are inshrouded,
the hour of our national deliverance.
Grant, oh Lord,
that a twofold portion of the lovely spirit
with which was endowed the illustrious dead we lament,
may rest upon his successor.
He supremely needs it.
He needs his unflinching rectitude,
his generous instinct,
his forgiving disposition,
his noble forbearance and discretion
to an infinite degree,
in order that he may complete the blessed work
marked out by our sainted President.
Sovereign Creator!
open wide the portals of eternal bliss,
and let the righteous Abraham of the Western world enter.
Remember his suffering for the sake of principles,
and let it be a propitiation for the sins of the people
he so dearly loved and so faithfully served.
May he I ever sit at Thy right hand,
imparadised in the contemplation of Thy divine essence.
Grant, from the highest heavens
he may soon behold our unalloyed joy,
when the pavilion of peace shall again
spread its folds over us,
and an indissoluble bond of brotherhood
unite together all the inhabitants of this country.
And to the beloved relief of one so good,
to the bereaved sons and disconsolate widow,
speak, Oh Lord, of the unending delights
he now enjoys in the land of life.
It will infuse into their hearts fortitude and resignation.
The voice of religion
and the grateful expressions of a reconstructed nation,
will then be a solace to their minds
and a soothing balm to their souls.
We now offer supplications unto Thee
for Thy servant, the Secretary of State,
stricken by the hand of treason.
“May he not die, but live
and declare to posterity the works of the Lord.”
And may all our powers,
our energies and endeavors
be devoted to benefit mankind,
in accordance with Thy will,
and that of the lamented Executive of the American nation.

This prayer by Rabbi Sabato Morais was offered in conclusion to a sermon delivered at some point days after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on 15 April 1865, and reprinted in The Philadelphia Inquirer on 20 November 1865. The time of the assassination corresponded to motsei shabbat and the beginning of the 6th day of Passover 5625, and so we can imagine this prayer having been delivered at some point over the remaining two festival days of Pesaḥ, on April 17th or 18th. The prayer was preserved by Rabbi Morais in his ledger (page 24, clipping 029), an archive of newsclippings recording material he contributed to the press, among other announcements. (Many thanks to the Library of the University of Pennsylvania for helping to make this resource accessible.) Next to the clipping, Rabbi Sabato has written, “Andrew Johnson proved anything but a worthy successor to the sainted Abraham Lincoln.”


prayer after the assassination of President Lincoln [1865-04-20] (Sabato Morais Ledger, p. 24 clipping 029)



1Cf. Job 14:2 and Psalms 102:12



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