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Prayer for the United States on Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (24 November 1864)


Contribute a translationSource (English)
Oh, let us pray for the dawning of that joyous day
when thirty-five reunited States
shall offer a national thanksgiving
while the symbol of their greatness
shall proudly wave over every dome and spire.
Let us pray for peace:—
Parent of good!
we lay prostrate at the footstool or Thy mercy
and crave for peace.
Grateful for Thy manifold favors at all times,
and this year especially,
we yet cannot fully rejoice in its fruition.
Thou hast verily filled to overflowing
the cup of our prosperity,
but that of bitter sorrow
is also brought nigh to our lips.
The aspect of the dead,
the agony of the wounded,
the moaning of the sufferers,
tear our hearts.
From the ensanguined battle-field,
from the chilly and dreary camps,
from the bereaved and lonely hearth,
a voice rises unto Thee, O, compassionate Lord!
and “peace, peace,” it cries.
Oh, send a ray of Divine wisdom
to illumine the mind of our Chief Magistrate,
that he may discover the instrument of peace.
Let the gentle spirit of forbearance
hover around the assembly of our Senators and Representatives
and guide their deliberations.
Repress the vehemence of zealots,
and let the feelings of the obdurate be softened
by tokens of brotherhood and love.
May we speedily throng again Thy holy courts,
to thank and praise Thy name, Oh, Most High God,
for the longed-for peace of our beloved Union.
And now I beseech Thee, O, Lord,
to execute within us a sentiment of patriotism
that we may enlist our names
among those of our beneficent men and women
who labor for the sakes of our defenders at sea and on land.
May our hospitals,
our Sanitary Commissions
and our soldiers’ and societies
obtain a ready and generous co-operation
from those who have been taught to believe
that “Charity delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 11:4)
May such be Thy gracious will, Heavenly Creator.

This prayer by Rabbi Sabato Morais was offered on Thanksgiving Day at the conclusion of a sermon reprinted the following day in The Philadelphia Inquirer on 25 November 1864. It was preserved by Rabbi Morais in his ledger (page 23, clipping 028), 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.)


Thanksgiving Day Prayer [1864-11-24] (Sabato Morais Ledger, p. 23, clipping 028)




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