11.23.2022 – gather together

gather together
to ask the Lord’s blessing
sing praise to His Name

Having talked about the smells of Thanksgiving, it is fair to talk about the sounds.

And for me the sounds of Thanksgiving included the sound of singing the Hymn, We Gather Together.

I always knew it was of Dutch origin and for that reason I wanted it sung at our wedding and we did.

I learned more about the hymn from an article in the book of essays, Thanksgiving : the American holiday by Laurie C. Hillstrom.

The essay, We Gather Together,” A Thanksgiving Hymn (1894) states:

“We Gather Together” is a hymn that is closely associated with Thanksgiving. For the first half of the 20th century, it was commonly sung by children in schools as well as by worshippers in churches across the country.

But few people realize that this short hymn has a long and complicated history that began in 16th-century Europe.

The melody used for “We Gather Together” started out as a European folk song, and it had various lyrics associated with it through the years.

It turned into a hymn about overcoming religious oppression in 1597, when a group of Dutch Protestants defeated the Spanish Catholics who had long occupied their town and sang to celebrate their religious freedom.

The first printed version of the song appeared in a book of patriotic songs called Nederlandtsche Gedenckclanck, which was published in Holland in 1626. The Dutch-language version of “We Gather Together” traveled to the New World with early Dutch settlers. It was first translated into English in 1894 by Theodore Baker, an American scholar who heard it while studying in Germany.

The song began appearing in American hymnals in 1903, and its popularity increased during both World Wars.

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!

Source: “We Gather Together,” 1597. First published as “Wilt heden nu treden” in the Dutch songbook Nederlandtsche Gedenckclanck, collected by Adrianus Valerius, Haarlem, Holland: 1626. Translated into English by Theodore Baker, 1894.

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