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And Thou, Omnipotent King!
who-dost vouchsafe to raise deliverers for the Union in the hour of peril,—
sainted men who stood at the breach to prevent a disrupture,
be with us even now.
Breathe a spirit of wisdom,
a spirit of counsel,
and the fear of Thee into the rulers of the land.
May they understand how great is their responsibility
before Thee and all mankind,
and prove equal to the exigencies of the time.
Grant, we beseech Thee,
that their pervading thought,
their sole aspiration
be the stability of the government
set up by the “Mighty” in righteousness.
These labored unselfishly
to make it immovable as an adamantine rock.
Oh! may the broad foundations never shake.
The massive pillars continue everlastingly
to support the grand fabric!
Let the boon asked by Thy Psalmist for the faithful tribes,
and which concludes the hymn
suggestive of the religious instruction
chosen for this Thanksgiving day,
be felt by every State
and every city
and every home of this goodly land,
as it is written “The Lord will grant his people strength,
the Lord will bless His people with peace,” (Psalms 29:11)
Peace, perfect peace, command,
Thou who art our beneficent Father!
to dwell with those who are far and who are near
in the American Republic,
the seat of political and religious liberty.
This prayer for the government by Rabbi Sabato Morais, preserved in an undated newspaper clipping from an unknown newspaper, was offered on Thanksgiving Day (24 November) in 1881. It was preserved by Rabbi Sabato Morais in his ledger (p. 234, clipping 414), 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.) We were able to date the prayer from the context offered by surrounding clippings that detailed the circumstances in which the prayer was given. Another clipping provided an outline of the sixty-first annual meeting of the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society (founded 1820, thus giving the date of 1881). With that date likely, references to activities in surrounding clippings began to make sense, especially the attention given to the relief work that year of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in eastern Europe. The Kiev pogrom of 1881 began during the spring that year. In the prayer itself, the year 1881 provides the necessary context for understanding Rabbi Morais’s references to the “hour of peril” and “the stability of the government” — the mortal injury to President James A. Garfield shot that summer and who died that fall. When this prayer was offered, Chester A. Arthur, was president of the United States. –Aharon Varady
“Prayer for the United States on Thanksgiving Day after the Assassination of President James A. Garfield, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (24 November 1881)” 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 United States on Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (24 November 1864)
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)
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