Prayer for the New Year

by David P. Stern


    Great God almighty, we pray, give us these:
    May this new year bring us blessings of peace
    May You keep giving us daily our bread
    Health to our bodies, roof overhead
    Other than that, we ask one more thing, still:
    Strengthen our hands--grant us courage and will.

    Your awesome power can miracles call
    Cleave the sea's waters to stand like a wall
    Worthier souls by such feats were not blessed:
    Who are we, then, to deserve such request?
    While this world suffers oppression and war,
    Why should we lucky ones ask You for more?
    Yet one more favor we ask from you still:
    Strengthen our hands--grant us courage and will.

    Yes, we have sinned, but your mercy we seek.
    You are almighty--we, mortal and weak.
    Most of our errors were petty in kind
    Born of fatigue, in confusion of mind:
    Harshness of voice towards them that are dear
    Turning our backs when the needy stand near
    Lord, with your spirit our selfish souls fill:
    Strengthen our hands--grant us courage and will.

    Make us bear faith to your name, thus we pray
    Even when tired, at end of the day
    Strong to uphold your traditions, we plead,
    Strong to give aid to our brethren in need,
    Strong to discover resources within
    Strong to be just, and do right, and not sin.
    Lord, in our souls, a new zeal instill:
    Strengthen our hands--grant us courage and will.

    Help us, O lord, our sins to atone
    Teach us the faith that is ours alone
    Teach us Your kindness, our actions inspire
    May we work hard for your sake and not tire
    May we create, and advance, and renew
    May our deeds and our hearts both ring true
    Just a small miracle, one wish fulfil:
    Strengthen our hands--grant us courage and will.


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    This was written in 1973 for use in High Holiday services by congregation Mishkan Torah in Greenbelt, Maryland. That year Mishkan Torah was near bankruptcy, and I "was volunteered" to fill the post. The poem was written both to express one's own "accounting of the soul" and to add creative contents to the services. As it happened, the armies of Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel that Yom Kippur. The congregation survived and expanded.

Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
     Mail to Dr.Stern:   david("at" symbol) .

Last updated 18 January 2002