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we stand before Thee,
united in heart,
invoking Thy name and Thy blessing.
Help us, O Father,
to bear in mind constantly
how much we owe to the labors of our fellow men.
Day by day others toil that we may be satisfied;
they brave the terrors of the unknown
for the truth that sheds light on our way.
Numberless gifts have been laid in our cradles
as our birthright by men and women
in every corner of the globe.
Help us then, O God,
to realize that labor is man’s very life,
that nothing comes into the world ready made,
and that, therefore,
none of us in the pride of possession
forget the true nature and source of wealth
or the responsibilities of power.
Give us the strength
to pierce through the clouds of disagreement
that we may see our common interests
and soar above the distinctions of color, creed and culture:
that we may see our common destiny
to keep aglow the sacred memory of our common sacrifices,
that we may never lose sight of our common humanity.
Help us, O God,
to be on our guard against
believing that the things which constitute the difficulties of our day
are in the order of nature,
beyond the control of man.
Give us the vision,
and the strength
to struggle on toward
the eradication of greed, corruption, and superstition,
toward the implementation of health, security, and opportunity.
Aid us in our individual and collective efforts
to rebuild this world
for a society more free,
and more splendid than ours,
for an order that will truly approximate
the hope of Thy Kingdom.
help us to live purposefully,
and in consecration to the service of Thy children.
This prayer, initially delivered by Rabbi Joseph Baron as an invocation at the opening of the 12th U.A.W.-C.I.O. Labor Convention in Milwaukee, July 1949, was included in the anthology, The Prayer Book of the Armed Forces (ed. Daniel A. Poling, 1951), pp. 81-82. The prayer was selected for the anthology by Walter P. Reuther (1907-1970), a Lutheran, a leader of organized labor, and a civil rights activist who built the United Automobile Workers (UAW) into one of the most progressive labor unions in American history.
“Opening prayer for the 12th U.A.W.–C.I.O. Labor Convention in Milwaukee, by Rabbi Joseph Baron (1949)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.
Works of related interest:
Salvation through Labor, a prayer for the Sabbath before Labor Day, adapted from the writings of A.D. Gordon by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)
The Dignity of Labor, a prayer for Labor Day by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)
Opening Prayer on the Significance of Labor Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)