Take just a few minutes this week to introduce your homeschool students to a beautiful piano performance of a four hundred year old Dutch tune that is now a Thanksgiving classic.
Like many seasonal songs, “We Gather Together” has a complex history. The music is based on a Dutch folk melody that was arranged and given verses by poet and composer Adriaen Valerius (1575–1625) to commemorate the Dutch victory in the Battle of Turnhout in 1597, an engagement in the long Dutch War of Independence (from Spain). The modified arrangement that is best known today is properly called Kremser, after Viennese musicologist Eduard Kremser (1838–1914) who built upon Valerius’ earlier work.
Because the tune is so beautiful it has drawn the attention of many verse-writers over the years. The most common lyrics used in the United States — “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing” — are those of American musicologist Theodore Baker (1851–1934). In the Netherlands, Valerius’ original Dutch verses, “Wilt heden nu treden,” are still commonly sung. And of course the tune by itself is now a Thanksgiving standard on radio stations and in shopping venues all across the United States.
We Gather Together
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
Learning something about the history of a favorite or familiar piece of music will enrich and deepen your students’ understanding of the creative world around them.
What musical memories have you made in your homeschool this Cygnus Term? 😊
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