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O Lord! Open Thou my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. (Psalms 51:17)
Thou who hast framed my being know at the thought,
which pervades it at this solemn hour.
Suffer me not to falter, Mighty Protector!
when I seek to show forth Thy goodness,
and teach its recipients the duties of life.
Like the dew that falls gently on the surface of the earth,
but sinks down into its bosom, and makes it fertile,
so let my feeble imparting strike root
into the hearts of my hearers,
and yield exuberant fruit.
God who hearkenest unto prayer!
Grant that that the celebration of an event,
which perhaps, none among us will again witness in our community,
may add inspiring feelings of devotional awe.
Grant that the impression it will create,
may not be effaced until we cease to exist.
When, lured by the passions, we waver in our faith,
let the memorial of the day, on which we avowed it,
before a vast multitude of Thy adorers,
withhold us from defection;
for, unto Thee O Everlasting King!
we devote this comely habitation.
As a tribute of allegiance to the code of laws that govern Israel,
we laid the corner stone thereof,
furthered its erection,
and have now hallowed it with national psalmody.
This monument O God!
shall tell a generation yet unborn,
that we have held fast unto the legacy of our fathers.
Let then Thy spirit—
though it fills the universe—
deign to rest thereupon.
In the volumes we revere has been written,
that in what place soever,
Thou wilt allow Thy name to be mentioned,
on it will Thy Divinity descend, and bestow blessings.
Oh! vouchsafe to fulfil in us that celestial promise.
Let the radiance of Thy Glory illumine this tabernacle.
Let it be reflected in our future demeanor.
Grant that it may influence our course;
that it it may prompt us to watch at these sacred portals,
to enter therein, and worship therein
in unison of sentiments and humble adoration.
Let Thy invisible Spirit, O Lord!
soothe the pangs of Thy suppliants;
breathe hope into Thy forlorn children;
uphold the repentant in the paths of righteousness;
offer the pious a foretaste of immortality.
Let it affect him also,
who, bewildered by the turmoil of life,
never communes with his Maker.
Lo! incited by an outward impulse,
he has this day bent his steps hither.
Grant that the Spirit which I invoke
may penetrate his inward soul,
and he will own “that a day in Thy courts
is better than a thousand” spent in the pursuit of gain.
And now, O Omniscient God!
Which of Thy gracious boons shall Thy servant,
the son of Thy handmaid,
implore from Thee?
The longing of my heart is before Thine eyes continually.
“O Lord! Open Thou my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.” (Psalms 51:17)
This prayer for the consecration of the new synagogue building of Mikve Israel by Rabbi Sabato Morais was recorded in an “[Account of…] the consecration ceremony of the new Synagogue of the congregation Mikveh Israel… [Excerpted…] from The Philadelphia Inquirer, of May 25th.” and reprinted in The Jewish Messenger on 1 June 1860. It was preserved by Rabbi Morais in his ledger (page 17b, clipping 017), 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 on the consecration of the new synagogue building for Ḳahal Ḳadosh Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (1 June 1860)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
Prayer on the second anniversary of the Jewish Foster Home and Orphan Asylum in Philadelphia, by Rabbi Sabato Morais (20 February 1857)
A Prayer at the Ceremony of Breaking Ground for the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center, by Rabbi Jacob Bosniak (1924)