We Gather Together

Enjoy the Thanksgiving medley.  It leads off with the old Dutch hymn “We Gather Together” is usually sung for Thanksgiving Day worship.  The original composer is unknown.  It was written at the end of the 1500s after The Netherlands had started to throw off Spanish domination and establish a post-reformation, Protestant culture.  In 1648, the Spanish endeavors to control Holland were finally destroyed beyond recovery.  The hymn is both thankful for blessing and militant in its view of God as a defender of the faithful, and is considered the best of these defiant musical pieces.

William the Silent, one of the leaders of the fight against Spain, was eventually murdered by a Catholic assassin. His son, Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, assumed the leadership for more than a quarter century. His rule was called the great golden age of prosperity where rich post-reformation culture developed throughout Holland.  In 1641 he married Mary Stuart, Princess Royal of England and their son William III married his first cousin, Mary Stuart who came to rule  England as “William and Mary”

“We Gather Together” was first published in 1626 in Haarleem.  In 1877, it was discovered by Edward Kremser, a Viennese musician who published it in his collection of hymns. The English translation was done by Theodore Baker.

This period in the 1600s also ushered in what is considered by many to be the greatest period of dutch painters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer where the virtues of a well ordered, comfortable society with the family at its center are often depicted.

As to the fine dining on this day, Benjamin Franklin probably thought the yearly bird should be a bald eagle not a turkey.

Franklin’s Letter to His Daughter (excerpt)

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country…

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”


About Jamie

Retired Writer Editor - Loves Books, Musical Theater, politics for a good argument, genealogy, Scotland and owls
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