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Thursday, November 22, 2018

We Gather Together

By: Adrianus Valerius, 1597
Performed By The Quicny Choral Society

"We Gather Together" is a hymn to freedom written by Adrianus Valerius, a Dutch poet and composer, after the Dutch and English victory in the Battle of Turnhout during the Dutch War for Independence, in which the mostly Protestant Seven Provinces of the Dutch Low Countries, led by William of Orange, rebelled against the repression of the Roman Catholic Habsburg King Philip II of Spain, and won their independence in one of the first successful secessions in Europe and formed one of the first European republics of the modern era, the United Provinces or Dutch Republic.

The hymn became a popular favorite in America during the early 1900s for services of Thanksgiving.

When I hear the last line of this hymn, I am nearly overwhelmed by how deeply they meant it and what the cost was for so many people to mean it.

I well up with awe and admiration for the nobility of those European souls who yearned so deeply for the freedom to be individuals, to be true to themselves, to profess and live out their own creed, according to the dictates of their own conscience and their own reasoning minds.

The prophet Elisha was so bold as to ask God for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, but I tremble as I ask God for a half portion of the spirit of ones such as these, as I enjoy with heartfelt thankfulness, the manifold blessings and good fortune of what has been established by the good work these men and women began so many years ago.

We Gather Together

Theodore Baker Translation, 1894

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!

O Lord, make us free!