28 March 2011

Singing the Dutch Anthem (Wilhelmus) in Chapel

In our desire to read through the entire Bible in the community, every book gets read in chapel. With some of the Old Testament books, this can get a bit hard at times on the chapel-goers. The last little while has been Chronicles. The entire first nine chapters are only lists of names - and they're generally not short chapters. Every once in awhile some information is given about a name, but since that generally involves an unknown place name, this doesn't make too much of a difference.

Matthijs and I read at home the daily reading a couple of times, and the highlight was probably noticing that 1 Chronicles 7 seems to suggest that Izrahiah has 5 sons but there are only 4 listed. As much as I believe that every part of the Bible is important and place there for a reason (and there is something rather impressive about all the names listed there - names of people who have been part of God's plan for generations after generations), this doesn't exactly seem like the ideal reading to begin one's day. It's hard to figure out what would be spiritually edifying in the passage.

And yet as we moved on to the next section of Chronicles, the section on the heroes, the person leading chapel made a great link. He had us sing the Dutch Anthem (the Wilhelmus) in connection with reading. The Dutch anthem, at least in comparison to the Canadian and American anthems, has always seemed a bit odd to me. The first stanza is as follows:
"William of Nassau
am I, of German (Dutch?) blood.
Loyal to the fatherland
I will remain until I die.
A prince of Orange
am I, free and fearless.
The king of Spain
I have always honoured."
(Copied from wikipedia, where you can find more verses and a history of it).

As much as the following stanzas do talk about fearing God and being good to one's subjects, it's not exactly something that seems fitting for in church. And yet, the connection of the anthem to David is rather obvious, as illustrated by the eighth stanza (again taken from wikipedia):
"Like David, who was forced to flee
from Saul, the tyrant.
I had to sigh,
as did many other nobles.
But God raised him,
relieving him of despair,
and gave him a kingdom
very great in Israel."

The singing of the anthem helps us remember the honour we have for our dutch forefathers. Making the connection to the heroes of the Bible helps make us aware of the meaning behind the names listed - and makes it a little easier to read this section of the Bible with more awe and wonder, even when it sometimes feels long and boring.

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