The "Pour Out Your Wrath" prayer is not an original composition but rather a combination of biblical verses. Writes Joseph Tabory: "The earliest mention of this custom is probably the version of the haggadah found in Machzor Vitry (p. 296). In this version, we ﬁnd an additional six verses before the ﬁnal verse from Lamentations: ﬁve from Psalms and one from Hosea. This version seems to be a later addition to the Machzor Vitry as there is no mention of this custom in the description of the seder attributed to Rashi in this same work (p. 2.87.). It is difﬁcult to determine when this addition was in- corporated into the MachzorVitry. The earliest appearance of these verses that can be dated with some certainty is in the workof Eliezer ben Judah of Worms. He mentions them as an aside, considering them an accepted custom. There is, as yet, no evidence for the recital of these verses outside of Germany or France earlier than this, although they have been interpolated into one of the manuscripts of the siddur of R. Amram Gaon." JPS Commentary on the Haggadah, Joseph Tabory, 2008 pp 53-4
Our discomfort with "Pour out Your Wrath" is not simply our modernist discomfort with the curse incantations, but is also one of context. How does such a curse belong at a Seder.... a celebration of freedom? To understand the context of this vitriolic combination of verses, we must understand the context of the Seder night itself.
The Seder is first and foremost about Deliverance - Geula. Deliverance from Egypt and the Final Deliverance of the Messianic Era. It is a Layl Shemurim... a night of Watching.
The "Pour Out Your Wrath" incantation comes after the 3rd cup of Geulah (Extraordinary chastisements - וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים), the cup of the violent act of deliverance. Prior to its recitation, the Cup of Elijah - the forebearer of the Messiah is filled. According to most customs, the Fourth Cup of unification with God (I will take you) is filled after the door is shut.
Certainly one could make a case, that the antidote for "Pour out Your Wrath" with it's emphasis on the disruptive (חבלי דמשיח) nature of redemption, would be to focus on the harmony to follow....
שְׁפֹךְ אַהֲבָתְךָ עַל הַגּוֹיִים אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוּךָ
וְעַל מַמְלָכוֹת אֲשֶׁר בְּשִׁמְךָ קוֹרְאִים
בִּגְלַל חֲסָדִים שֶׁהֵם עוֹשִׂים עִם יַעֲקֹב
וּמְגִנִּים עַל עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִפְּנֵי אוֹכְלֵיהֶם.
יִזְכּוּ לִרְאוֹת בְּסֻכַּת בְּחִירֶיךָ
וְלִשְׂמֹחַ בְּשִׂמְחַת גּוֹיֶיךָ
Pour out Your love on the nations that know You
And on the kingdoms that call upon Your Name
For the loving-kindness that they perform with Jacob
And their defense of the People of Israel
In the face of those that would devour them.
May they be privileged to see
The Succah of peace spread for Your chosen ones
And rejoice in the joy of Your nations.
This alternative to Pour out Your Wrath has an interesting and questionable pedigree. “Chayyim Bloch (1881-1973) reported that he found an unusual version of this prayer in a manuscript haggadah that had been compiled in 1521. He states that this manuscript, which included other poems that are not found in standard haggadot and differing versions of the text, had disappeared during the Holocaust without a trace. Fortunately, he claims, he retained some notes with this prayer… …. Chayyim Bloch has a reputation for presenting new texts as ancient documents.” The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah, Joseph Tabory, 2008 Jewish Publication Society p. 55. While Blochs pseudo-blessing may satisfy our modernist sensibilities, it's contextual justification is forced. Why would we bless our non-Jewish friends at this juncture... if not simply to offset the existing curse.
To offer a more authentic alternative, it might make sense to review different trends in Jewish Messianism from the master Gershom Scholem...
Gershom Scholem distinguishes between catastrophic and utopian trends in messianism: “I spoke of the catastrophic nature of redemption as a decisive characteristic of every such apocalypticism, which is then complemented by the utopian view of the content of realized redemption. Apocalyptic thinking always contains the elements of dread and consolation intertwined. The dread and peril of the End form an element of shock and of the shocking which induces extravagance. The terrors of the real historical experiences of the Jewish people are joined with images drawn from the heritage of myth or mythical fantasy.
The apocalyptists have always cherished a pessimistic view of the world. Their optimism, their hope, is not directed to what history will bring forth, but to that which will arise in its ruin, free at last and undisguised.
This catastrophic character of the redemption, which is essential to the apocalyptic conception, is pictured in all of these texts and traditions in glaring images. It finds manifold expression: in world wars and revolutions, in epidemics, famine, and economic catastrophe; but to an equal degree in apostasy and the desecration of God’s name, in forgetting of the Torah and the upsetting of all moral order to the point of dissolving the laws of nature.
Little wonder that in one such context the Talmud cites the bald statement of three famous teachers of the third and fourth centuries: “May he come, but I do not want to see him.” From this perspective, the "Pour out Your Wrath" fits perfectly between the 3rd and 4th cup as we experience the "Birth Pangs" of the Messiah and Judgement and retribution begins. (see The Messianic Idea in Judaism)
Clearly the purification necessary for the "utopian view of the content of realized redemption" does not appear in the Pour out your Wrath intonation. For that aspect, I suggest we look at an entirely different liturgy, namely the purging of the leaven.
As we do, we realize that for some very strange reason, the prohibition of owning, seeing or benefiting from Leaven (Hametz) does not appear in our Haggadah. This is surprising, since as any homemaker will testify it represents the most daunting and challenging aspect of Passover preparation... and therefore, Redemption preparation. (true... men wrote the haggadah, so what would they know? see Feminist postscript at end)
Noted that the Haggadah mentions Leaven as the reciprocal of matzah (cf. on all other nights we eat leaven and unleaven), but the aspect purging leaven from one's property and not deriving any benefit or enjoyment are nowhere mentioned. Ironically, it is in the purging of leaven that we find alternative parallels to Pour out Your Wrath...
With the introduction of purging the Leaven, we discover an alternative incantation, with hints of a vitriolic tone but directed against the corrupting influence of the evil inclination and a call for its destruction before the advent of redemption. Notice the combination of purging the leaven from our hearts and ending the subjugation of the nations.
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֲנִי מְבַעֵר חָמֵץ מִבֵּיתִי וּמֵרְשׁוּתִי כַּךְ ה' אֱ-לֹהַי וֵא-לֹהַי אֲבוֹתַי תְּבַעֵר אֶת כָּל הַחִיצוֹנִים וְאֶת רוּחַ הַטּוּמְאָה תְּבַעֵר מִן הָאָרֶץ וְאֶת יִצְרֵנוּ הָרָע תְּבַעֲרֵהוּ מֵאִתָּנוּ וְתִתֶּן לָנוּ לֵב בָּשָׂר וְכָל הַסִטְרָא אַחֲרָא וְכָל הָרִשְׁעָה כְּעָשָׁן תִּכְלֶה וְתַעֲבִיר מֶמְשֶׁלֶת זָדוֹן מִן הָאָרֶץ וְכָל הַמְעִיקִים לַשְׁכִינָה תְּבַעֲרֵם בְּרוּחַ בָּעֵר וּבְרוּחַ מִשְׁפָּט כְּשֵׁם שֶׁבִּעַרְתָּ אֶת מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת אֱלֹהֵיהֶם בַּיָמִים הַהֵם וּבִזְמַן הַזֶּה.
May it be Your will, Lord, our God and God of our fathers, that just as I remove the chametz from my house and from my possession, so shall You remove all the extraneous forces. Remove the spirit of impurity from the earth, remove our evil inclination from us, and grant us a heart of flesh to serve You in truth. Make all the sitra achara (evil inclination), all the kelipot (barriers), and all wickedness be consumed in smoke, and remove the dominion of evil from the earth. Remove with a spirit of destruction and a spirit of judgment all that distress the Shechina, just as You destroyed Egypt and its idols in those days, at this time. Amen, Selah. (kabalistic kavanah recited before the bedikat HaChametz (searching for the Leaven).
We return to the question of why the purging of physical leaven and the leaven of our hearts is seemingly absent from our Seder. Israel Jacob Yuval details the conflagratory nature of "leaven" in Jewish-Christian tensions in the Middle Ages. In his article Passover in the Middle Ages in Passover and Easter; Origin and History to Modern Times pp 141-2 writes:
But burning leaven evoked messianic images of redemption, as we see from the thirteenth-century halakhic authority and German pietist, Eliezer of Worms: “As reward for the burning of leaven, Israel will set Esau [Rome] on ﬁre.” Little imagination is needed to guess what Christians who observed the ceremony must have thought. On the eve of Passover, on the day which (as Jews reckoned it) Jesus was crucified, Jews removed all leaven from their home and burned it—while thinking of the destruction of Christianity and the coming of redemption. Some Jews themselves feared that interpretation....
The following event, however, reveals the danger that existed in that regard. In the year 1399, a disputation occurred between the convert from Judaism, Peter, and Rabbi Lipmann Mulhausen. The remarkable conclusion of the disputation— the execution of eighty Jews—evokes the impression that this was not a learned debate so much as it was an inquisitorial trial played out against the backdrop of the charge of host desecration [The "host" is the sacred bread used in the Eucharistic service of the Mass]. The central Christian argument was that Jews disdain Christianity and seek to destroy it: “Of all the dough that you knead, you burn a little as an affront to their God [i.e., the Christian God]. Also, on the eve of Passover, the time of the fast [Lent] you burn bread.” The accusations refer to two customs: burning challah (the ritual removal and burning of part of the dough as an equivalent to the dough offering from Temple times, before baking bread) and burning leaven. The apostate from Judaism apparently saw in both a Jewish effort to disparage the host.
Leaven in the New Testament:
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. [Corinthians 5:8]
“the leaven of the Pharisees,” which is “hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1; d. Mark 8:15).
It could be that Leaven and the purging of Leaven had become, at least in the early days of Jewish - Christian relationships, a wedge issue.... especially given the reference to the "leaven of the Pharisees" aka followers of Rabbinic Judaism.
Another possibility is that "leaven" and the purging of leaven came to represent a personal conception of redemption which had been co-opted by Christianity and at least, temporarily, jettisoned by Judaism. Gershom Scholem writes:
So what would an authentic alternative to "Pour out Your Wrath" sound like? Yes, Chayyim Bloch's "Pour Out Your Love" combined with the traditional "Pour out Your Wrath" covers all the bases but begs the question of why curse and why bless and why here? Rabbi Alexandri's prayer would certainly work, but lacks the power and full blown vitriol of "Pour Out Your Wrath".
Below is a poem (piyut) written by Rabbi Shimon ben Yitzhak Born in Mainz, Germany; an important scholar of his time. As a paytan he composed yozerot, kerovot, selihot, hymns, and rashuyyot le-hatanim. It is probable that he sang his piyutim himself. His piyutim bare traces of the language found in early piyutim, and they are marked by the pain of the persecutions of the Jews in Bar-Isaacs' lifetime. Birth: after circa 970 Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany Death: 1020
Isræl Jacob Yuval notes that it has been pointed out by scholars that this "poem cursing the “evil impulse” was stylistically similar to the curse against the Gentiles. This liturgical poem continues alphabetically; the verbs used to curse later on are “sweep him away, hurl him, compel him, banish him, sacrifice him” (see A. M. Haberman quoted in Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages by Isræl Jacob Yuval. pp 123-4). This piyut is part of the Erev Rosh HaShanna Selichot, but that does not mean that the author had Selichot in mind.... after all speaking about the Haggadah, scholars note that: "When such a volume was compiled, it became customary to add poetical pieces. ...These piyyuṭim were not written for this service, but were selected from other collections." Jewish Encyclopedia entry for Haggadah
“The considerations I would like to set forth in what follows concern the special tensions in the Messianic idea and their understanding in rabbinic Judaism. These tensions manifest themselves within a fixed tradition which we shall try to understand. But even where it is not stated explicitly, we shall often enough find as well a polemical side-glance, or an allusion, albeit concealed, to the claims of Christian Messianism.
Judaism, in all of its forms and manifestations, has always maintained a concept of redemption as an event which takes place publicly, on the stage of history and within the community. It is an occurrence which takes place in the visible world and which cannot be conceived apart from such a visible appearance. ... Their eschatology is of a national kind: it speaks of the re-establishment of the House of David, now in ruins, and of the future glory of an Israel returned to God; also of everlasting peace and the turning of all nations toward the one God of Israel and away from heathen cults and images. ...
Christianity conceives of redemption as an event in the spiritual and unseen realm, an event which is reflected in the soul, in the private world of each individual, and which effects an inner transformation which need not correspond to anything outside. But it remains peculiar that this question concerning the inner aspect of the redemption should emerge so late in Judaism—though it finally does emerge with great vehemence." Gershom Scholem - The Messianic Idea in Judaism
אויל המתעה מרגיז ומחטיא בלעהו קלעהו ועוד בל יסטיא
געול המגאל ומטנף טהורים דחהו מחהו מלבות והרהורים
התל המהתל ומפתל ישרים וכחהו שכחהו ולא יקומו אשרים
זבוב המארב במפתחי הלב חנקהו נקהו ולב חדש תלבלב
טמא המזוהם ומסית להאשים יעהו צעהו בלי ענוש בענשים
כלי אשר כליו רעים לפתהו כפתהו מקום בית מרעים
מנון המפנק מנוער לאחרית נדחהו קדחהו מהשאיר לו שארית
שאור המעפש ומבאיש העסה עקרהו נקרהו חטא בלי לשא
פתלתל המנקש ומעקש דרכים צרפהו ערפהו בלי היות סרוכים
קוץ המכאיב וסלון הממאיר רעלהו העלהו כרם להפאר
שפוך מי טוהר דמים להדיח תחטאנו באזוב תכבס ותריח
שני מתלבן עולם ונושע ברחמים יצדיק חקר כבודם לשעשע
חוזק זרע יחשוף וישיב וכשנים קדמוניות אותנו ישיב
Rabbi Simeon b. Isaac, b. Avun (980 - 1040) From: The Authorised Selichot for the Whole Year by Abraham Rosenfeld 1978 p. 152 Selichot for the Eve of the New Year.
Destroy and cast away the seductive folly which excites man to sin, so that he may mislead us no more.
Cast away and blot out from our hearts and thoughts the pollution which deﬁles and pollutes the pure.
Mislead the deceiver, who causes the straight to be crooked; rebuke him and discard him so that idolatry shall not be established.
Strangle and clear away the gadﬂy that lurks at the gate of the heart, so that a new heart may ﬂower (within us).
Sweep utterly away the unclean and foul who seduces us to sin, that he may not cause us to be sorely punished.
Seize the rogue whose instruments are evil, bind him fast, lest the house of the evildoers rise again.
Repel and burn him that was brought up delicately from a child, and has in the end become a master, so that no remnant be left of him.
Remove and destroy the moldy leaven which spoils the dough, so that it may not involve us in sin.
Cause the intriguer, who ensnares us and leads us astray to be burnt out; break his neck, so that he should have no followers.
Poison and uproot the pricking thorn and piercing briar, lest it spoil the vineyard.
Pour out water of puriﬁcation to rinse away our guilt, purge us with hyssop, and wash us clean.
Let the scarlet (sin) be whitened that we may be saved for ever; may he justify us in his mercy, and delight in the search of our glory.
May he lay bare his powerful arm and bring back our captives, and restore us to our former condition as in the days of old.
Feminist Postscript -
Could it be that the purging of the leaven was not left out of the Seder night as the result of a polemic with the Christians, but rather as a result of good old male chauvinism? Listen the the Magid of Mezritch, who is known for elevating the downtrodden and ignored up to the highest realm of the Divine throne....
רבי לוי-יצחק מברדיטשוב ז״ל, משהיה רואה בערבי פסחים נשים עוסקות בניקוי וכשרת הבית והכלים, תוך גירוד, קירצוף, שטיפה ורחיצה, היה אומר כדרך שאומרים בשעת תקיעת-שופר בראש-השנה: ״יהי רצון שאלה המלאכים היוצאים מן קשר״ק (קירצוף, שטיפה, רחיצה, קירוד) יעלו לפני כסה כבודך וימליצו טוב בעדנו״...
והיינו, שכל ההכנות הללו יוצרות מלאכים מליצי-יושר לישראל...
הגדה של פסח, עם מעינה של תורה נעספו על ידי אלכסנדר זושה פרידמן, הוצת פאר תל-אביב 1957
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, when he saw, on the eve of Passover, women engaged in cleaning and kashering the home and kitchen utensils, through scrubbing, washing, scraping and rinsing, would say as they say at the moment of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hassanah: May it be Your will that thee angels that come out of "KiSRIK" (Scraping, Rinsing, washing and scrubbing) rise to Your throne of Your presence and suplicate good for us.... Which means to say, that all these preparations create angels who suplicate on behalf of Israel.
Passover Haggadah with Springs of Torah gathered by Alexander Zusha Freidman, Published by Paer Tel Aviv, 1957 (HEBREW)