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Father of mercy!
In the day of our National humiliation
we have come to seek Thy countenance.
Hide it not from Thy contrite suppliants,
lest the people whom Thou didst cause to walk in light
be enshrouded in utter darkness.
Heavy is the gloom that surrounds us,
but a benignant look from Thee.
O Almighty Protector,
can restore serenity to our horizon.
Remember Thy compassion, O Lord,
and Thy loving kindness, which are everlasting.
For, surely, Thy watchful Providence
signally exhibited towards this country
has not departed therefrom.
Thou hast not rejected the creatures
whom Thou wast pleased greatly to exalt.
Even from our primeval days,
Thy invisible hand led us securely in grievous times.
When earthly kings had conspired
to crush us beneath the weight of their power,
Thou didst raise a deliverer,
and he brought us out to enlargement.
And because he found grace in Thy sight,
Thou didst endow him with superior knowledge
to understand Thy will,
and with a spirit of beneficence
to execute it.
Tutored by the counsel of Thy messenger,
we rose to excellence
and stood as a beacon to distant nations;
nay, people we know not triumphed in our glory,
and rejoiced at our happiness.
But now, alas, O, Omnipotent!
our delight has changed into mourning.
Fear and shame have seized our hearts;
for that which formed our national pride is awaning apace.
which our fathers had built for us
to dwell in in brotherly union,
threatens to fall.
To whom shall we flee
for help in our affliction?
In whose hands shall we commit
the preservation of our precious heir-loom?
Unto Thee, O, Most High! we call,
and at Thy altar we offer supplications.
Suffer not the recipients of Thy infinite bounty
to be now exposed to danger and sorrow.
Oh, deign to cast Thy shield around
the structure reared by the good and the faithful,
that not a single stone thereof may over decay.
For it is our shelter,
it is our comfort;
it is the laboratory
where the hearts of men are fashioned in one mould,
that they may beat in unison of feelings and desires.
Return, O Lord,
and repent Thee concerning Thy servants;
and if the awful calamity
which rages in our borders
was decreed against us
as a requital for our national misdeeds,
let the suffering it has occasioned
be deemed a sufficient atonement.
Remove Thy chastisement from Thy hapless children,
and grant, O Almighty Sovereign,
that it may leave us wiser and purer in Thy sight.
Grant that it may imbue us
with a higher appreciation of the blessings
Thou hast showered down upon this country and its inhabitants.
Then shall we have drawn from Thy judgments
a lesson of moderation,
of forbearance and discretion.
Ruler of the Universe, at this hour,
when the tearful eyes of a whole nation
are directed to Thy celestial throne,
bid thence a spirit of harmony unto their souls,
and be reflected in the work of their Senators and Legislators;
for then will this land enjoy her Sabbath of rest;
shall be heard of any more in our territories.
God of Israel,
in whose habitation reigns eternal peace,
grant, we most fervently beseech Thee,
peace unto us and all mankind,
now and evermore.
This prayer by Rabbi Sabato Morais was offered on 30 April 1863 at the conclusion of a “A Sermon. Delivered in accordance with the Proclamation of the President of the United States, at the Synagogue in Seventh Street, above Arch, on the National Fast-day, by the Rev. S. Morais, Minister of the Congregation”, that was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on 2 May 1863. It was preserved by Rabbi Morais in his ledger (page 23, clipping 026), 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.)
“Prayer for the United States on a Civic Fast Day during the Civil War, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (30 April 1863)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
Prayer for the Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after the Battle of Gettysburg by Rabbi Sabato Morais (4 July 1863)
Prayer for the United States on Thanksgiving Day on the First Day of Ḥanukkah during the Civil War, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (28 November 1861)
Prayer for the United States on a Civic Fast Day to avert Civil War, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (26 September 1861)
Prayer for the United States on Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (24 November 1864)