Music: Traditional Netherlands melody (pub. 1626)
Tune name: KREMSER
This hymn was written by an unknown author in celebration of Dutch freedom from Spanish sovereignty at the end of the 16th century. It was translated into English in 1894 by Theodore Baker (1851-1934), an American music scholar, and included in a 1917 publication, Dutch Folk-songs.
This hymn soon because associated with the American Thanksgiving holiday and (given the timing of its early popularity) with the idea of American Manifest Destiny, and hence with a sense of American exceptionalism. However, the commitment and desires in the text are more truly expressive of the life of the Church, the holy nation, the chosen race (cf. 1 Peter 2:9), the vanguard of the Kingdom of God.
1. 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.
2. 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 wast at our side: all glory be thine!
3. We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised; O Lord, make us free!
The Dutch folk melody long associated with this text gets its name, KREMSER, from the Viennese choir director, conductor, composer and musicologist Eduard Kremser, (1838-1914). The tune was one of six Dutch tunes that he arranged in 1895 for male voices.
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.