Thursday Song Lyric: We Gather Together

The great Dutch hymn "We Gather Together" celebrates Dutch victory in a battle of the war of independence from Spain. The hymn was adopted by Americans because it resonated so much with their own circumstances. It's a very relevant song this year, too, as the war between freedom and tyranny continues. Here's my VC post on the song, including the full lyrics, from 2005. And here's a good version of the song, from YouTube.YouTube has plenty of other versions too, if you want to hear pure organ music, or a church performance in Spanish.

martinned (mail) (www):
I'm Dutch, and I have to say I've never heard of either the Battle of Turnhout or the song. (I have heard of the war of independence, though...)
11.27.2008 9:17am
That is one of the great hymns. "A Mighty Fortress," "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum," . . . Once there were great hymns, alas!

But now I have to listen to Marty Haugen's unsingable excrementum.

The United Provinces would be styled a "republic" after gaining independence from Spain. But oddly, a republic under the noble house of Orange. Huh? No wonder the Founders didn't consider the Dutch to be fellow republicans.
11.27.2008 9:18am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pretty straightforward prayer for succor in a time of trouble.
I have not been able to track this down, but I have heard the melody is "Kremser" which is used for "Ich Had Ein Kamerad" (sorry for the German--mine is limited to "hands up).
Anybody know.
11.27.2008 9:43am
OT (apologies)

Islamic Terrorists (Mujahideen) attacked several targets in Bombay (Mumbai) India, killing over 120 and injuring over 300. Westerners apparently targeted - possibly still some hostages ...
11.27.2008 10:21am
Gary McGath (www):
That's a song for the religious who see those not of the True Faith as enemies. It's not about freedom, in spite of the last line; it's about making God's alleged will known, ordaining his kingdom, and granting special protection to his congregation.
11.27.2008 10:39am
Alan Gunn (mail):

Pretty straightforward prayer for succor in a time of trouble.
I have not been able to track this down, but I have heard the melody is "Kremser" which is used for "Ich Had Ein Kamerad" (sorry for the German--mine is limited to "hands up).
Anybody know.

According to the United Methodist Hymnal, the name of the tune is indeed "Kremser." It says it's a "16th cent. Dutch melody; arr. by Edward Kremser."
11.27.2008 10:42am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, it's a prayer for help and protection against an overwhelming enemy (Dutch vs. Spain).
But if it makes you feel good to think you're about to be persecuted, go for it.
11.27.2008 10:50am
Norman Bates (mail):
It is a beautiful hymn and traditional for thanksgiving; maybe the Pilgrims picked it up during their sojourn in the Netherlands. As a sign of the changing times it's now standard in all the Catholic hymnals I've run across in the past thirty years or so.

The tune I know for "Ich hatt einen Kameraden" is quite different. But I believe the song was originally a poem from Des Knabens Goldenes Wunderhorn and has probably been set to many tunes.
11.27.2008 10:55am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Hoosier: The connection between the Republic and the House of Orange was complex and constantly changing. The much more important battle at Nieuwpoort three years later was the start of the conflict between the Orangists and the Regents (i.e. the aristocracy of rich families who ran the Republic), a conflict that lasted as long as the Republic did. Most of the time, the Prince of Orange took care of the war(s), and the various parliaments took care of the rest, but some Princes managed to get significantly more power than that. (Eg. William III of William &Mary fame.)

BTW, happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!
11.27.2008 11:19am

Thanks for the information. I must admit that I lose track of domestic Dutch history from the end of the Thirty Year's War. I study international history, for the most part, so it's the Dutch trade "empire" after independence that I've read more about.

Oh. And also that William the Silent was the first nationa leader assassinated with a firearm. Why I remember that I can't say.

On the other hand, you clearly know this period. So if you don't mind, what was the role of the stadhouder in the Republic and its provinces? I understand that it was always in flux, and usually moving in the direction of more power for the House of Orange. But to what extent was this really a republic, in the sense that the sovereign was the people, and not a hereditary monarch?

Germany is a republic, but still allows people to style themselves as "Graf" or whatever. I don't think Austria allows this. And the US Constitution obviously does not allow for titles of nobility. So sovereignty seems the most important question. Any thoughts?
11.27.2008 11:38am
speedwell (mail):
"...if it makes you feel good to think you're about to be persecuted..."

I don't want to hear ONE BLASTED WORD out of you when someone wishes you "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."
11.27.2008 12:04pm
martinned (mail) (www):

Let's see:
- The sovereign was never the people. Like in England, parliament was sovereign. Only in this case it was the parliaments of the seven republics that made up the confederacy. (The "Staten" = estates.) They each sent an envoy to The Hague, to the Estates General ("Staten-Generaal"), which, being a confederacy, only had limited power and decided with unanimity.
- The Steward = Stadhouder was originally the represenative of the Lord of the Netherlands (no king until 1806), for example Charles V and Philip II, who were both also King of Spain. That's what the word means. After the Act of Abjuration, the States of each republic continued to appoint a steward when the situation required it, and this person was always chosen from the Orange-Nassau family.
- Two major periods without a steward (at least in the west, the only part that mattered): 1652-1672 and 1704-1747.
- The Prince's main opponent in politics was the Pensionary of Holland. He was the (non-voting) secretary of the Estates of Holland, and the representative of Holland in the Estates General. The two briliant politicians that held this post in the 17th century were Johan van Oldenbarnevelt from 1588 - 1619 (when he was arrested and executed on the orders of Prince Maurits) and Johan de Witt, from 1654-1672 (when he resigned and was shortly after lynched by an angry Orangist mob).
- The post of steward was never hereditary until 1747, when William IV forced this concession out of the estates of Holland as a condition to taking the job. This was immediately punished, because his son William V was incompetent.
- The power of the steward was primarily in foreign policy and war. He was the only person who could speak for the entire confederacy (in the 1650s and 1660s, Johan de Witt increased his power even more by becoming the de facto foreign minister as well, in the absence of a steward). The steward was the highest officer of army and navy, and in charge of the strategy of the war. Then again, the money to pay for these soldiers had to be voted by the parliaments.
- In many other situations, the steward also had legal prerogatives. For many jobs and council seats, he was allowed to chose from a double list, i.e. he would be presented with a list with two candidates for every position, and he would be allowed to make the final choice. That way he could influence local politics in many places.
- The power of the steward was constantly increasing under Maurits (1588-1627), who was a highly skilled military commander. Under his brother, Frederik-Hendrik (1627-1647), it got bigger still, since he was a good diplomat. His son, William II (1647-1652) unsuccesfully tried to stop the peace, and even laid siege before Amsterdam, and generally was too impulsive and petulant to hold on to his power. William III (1672-1704) came to power in the middle of a war with England, France, Munster and Cologne at the same time, and was therefore quite powerful. Dito for IV, who came in during the Austrian war of succession. V was incompetent, and therefore under the influence of his staff.

- Germany and many other countries, republic or not, have a law on nobility, which arranges who is entitled to use which title. The Dutch law on nobility is quite strict, I think, because the socialists who mostly wrote it don't like this kind of thing and would prefer if these titles disappeared. In any case, the only people who ever get given noble titles anymore are people who marry into, or are related to the Royal family. In Germany, the concept of nobility is so old and so much a part of the national heritage that it could never be abolished. This has nothing to do with them being a republic. (My quick and unscientific search of the German statute law database found no hits for "Adel" at either the Federal or the state level, so I suspect that there is no law defining or protecting the concept in German law at the moment. So noble titles in Germany would simply be part of one's name, just like any other family name that one might have.)
- In the time of the Dutch republic, there were certain nobles who had a "hereditary peerage", i.e. an automatic seat in one of the state parliaments. At the moment, there are very few nobles left. One of the main reasons for that is that the traditional titles of count and duke were all united in king Philip II at the time of our independence. That is why he was Lord of the Netherlands in the first place. At the moment, the Queen has about 40 noble titles, but otherwise there are very few nobles left.
11.27.2008 12:05pm
David Warner:

"Once there were great hymns, alas!"

There still are, and greatly sung too. You can even hear them sung here, at a volume and with a spirit that makes those very thick walls shake.

Reminded me of a Metallica concert.

This guy would tel you that those Dutch chapels rocked in a similar way.
11.27.2008 12:08pm
David Warner:
Martinned and Hoosier,

I'm wondering how much influence the Dutch Republican experience had via New Amsterdam on our own. Could Hamilton and the Rosevalleys be said to come out of this tradition?
11.27.2008 12:17pm
David Warner:
Yes, I'm aware that Hamilton was the son of a very down and out Scottish laird. I'm speaking of his power base, such as he had one.
11.27.2008 12:20pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@David Warner: Names-wise it is easy: Roosevelt is a Dutch name, as is Van Buren, to take another former President. Those guys all came to New Amsterdam when it was still Dutch.

The total influence is both direct and indirect. Much of what the English know/knew about capitalism and democracy (and shipping) they learnt from the Dutch in the Stuart era, particularly under William III. The Dutch were able to invade England in 1688 due to excellent propaganda, but also because, as a democracy, they were able to mortgage the farm in a way that no absolute monarchy would ever be able to. (They borrowed an absolute fortune to pay for that war.) After the Glorious Revolution, the new English government made many reforms, including the foundation of the Bank of England, that would help William III go to war against Louis XIV more efficiently. (He didn't mind working with a parliament, he was used to doing that in the Netherlands and knew how to pull the strings...)

So in that sense, the US version of capitalism is based on the Anglo-Dutch experience, where, in turn, many of the late-Stuart English reforms were based on/informed by Dutch experience.
11.27.2008 12:27pm
CLS (mail) (www):
The war between freedom and tyranny? Always such a war. And in the name of fighting terrorism the tyrants are destroying freedom. Unfortunately the worst offenses against freedom are being conducted by those who pretend to be defending it.
11.27.2008 6:35pm
David Warner:

"Unfortunately the worst offenses against freedom are being conducted by those who pretend to be defending it."

It may be overzealous or misguided but its no pretense.
11.27.2008 8:12pm
I'm not just trying to show off my encyclopedic knowledge of both American and Dutch history or anything, but did you guys know that old New York was once New Amsterdam?
11.27.2008 8:30pm
jccamp (mail):
Wonderful minutiae, funny posts. I love this place.
11.27.2008 9:22pm
Bama 1L:
David Warner, you may want to read Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America (2004). The subtitle reveals the argument. Shorto credits American religious pluralism and more general tolerance and autonomism to the Dutch colony.
11.27.2008 10:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I don't correct people, but I will come back with "Merry Christmas".
Last time I did that, the other person, a sales associate who was, I suppose, trying to be correct, said, "I prefer that, too."

So if you hang around, "Merry Christmas" is what you'll hear. And, possibly, "You got a problem with that?"
11.28.2008 12:13am

Really, Deez! That's nobody's business (but the Turks.)
11.28.2008 12:33am
David Warner:
Bama 1L,

Thanks for the tip. I'd say we had a fortuitous mix of New England Puritanism, New Amsterdam Libertarianism, Virginian Opportunism, and African Spiritualism.
11.28.2008 1:46am
Speedwell and David

Two days ago, the checker at a supermarket wished me a "happy holiday."

So now we can't say "Thanksgiving"?

In Indiana?!!
11.28.2008 5:25am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Hoosier: I was looking into the British Guy Fawkes Day, because I remembered something about a connection between November 5 in the UK and the US/Canadian Thanksgiving, and I discovered that the celebration of Bonfire Night in the UK is discouraged because they are afraid it will be offensive to Catholics.

All of which leads me to believe that Mike Judge was probably right...
11.28.2008 9:39am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Somebody ought to ask the RCs if they're offended.
I mean, hell, it's a party, right?
11.28.2008 10:01am
The Mojo Bison (mail) (www):
The definitive version remains the one done by Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner) for Weekend Update:

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing
And bless the Banana Roseanna Cake.
Please bless all our fathers
And bless all our mothers
And please don't make us sweat like Dr. Joyce Brothers.

--no, I can't find it on YouTube, damnit.
11.28.2008 10:28am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Isn't a Spanish version of the hymn somehow inappropriate?
11.28.2008 10:51am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"It's not about freedom, in spite of the last line; it's about making God's alleged will known, ordaining his kingdom, and granting special protection to his congregation."

OK, so it's Justice Breyer's "active liberty."
11.28.2008 10:55am
David Warner:

"Isn't a Spanish version of the hymn somehow inappropriate?"

11.28.2008 11:23am
David Warner:

"The Dutch were able to invade England in 1688 due to excellent propaganda, but also because, as a democracy, they were able to mortgage the farm in a way that no absolute monarchy would ever be able to."

Putting the King over the Water (to stay) was fair revenge for his brazen renaming of New Amsterdam for himself. Alas, we're stuck with the (former) Duke's moniker.

And you forgot another dutch president who knew a thing or two about Batavian values.
11.28.2008 11:32am
Ex parte McCardle:
Mojo Bison: Sorry for coming so late to this party, but thanks for the Roseanne Roseannadanna. At the Methodist church where I'm the organist, we have a community Thanksgiving service the Tuesday before Thanksgiving each year. We always sing Kremser, and I can't play through it without thinking of Dr. Joyce Brothers.
11.28.2008 8:03pm
fds (mail):
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11.28.2008 8:45pm
wolfefan (mail):
Hi -

As a former pastor, I appreciate the balance between wonderful old hymns and finding newer ones that speak to people as well. I always liked Marty Haugen's "Here in this place"... I find it very singable. Almost anything by Brian Wren, on the other hand, will find me stumbling around looking for either a meter or a melody (except the one about the Commonwealth of Love - an adaptation of the beatitudes that is fun to sing. Someone else must have written the tune.)
11.30.2008 5:33pm