I love Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday the infernal machine has a hard time commercializing. They do it – yes, they try to reduce it to the crassness of Christmas or Easter – but it is more difficult to commodify. Turkey farms and cranberry bogs aside, it is a tough task to reduce thankfulness for God’s blessings to a slick marketing campaign. I’m sure pumpkin growers are glad for the season of sales however…
Political Correctness dislikes Thanksgiving – at least the overtly Christian aspects of it. Apparently some haters of history and progress even sit out on Plymouth Rock every November, whining about things that cannot be changed. Today’s social studies (that’s history in case you forgot) students are dumbed-down further with insipid lessons and readings on “the diversity of harvest celebrations” and suchlike pabulum. This is nothing new – as far back as the early 1900’s the day was beginning to be molded into a sentimentally idealized memory of merry English Calvinists feasting with friendly noble savages in mythical Massachusetts – which I see as the first step in severing Thanksgiving from what it should be – a day to reflect on the Creator’s goodness to the nation as a whole. Sentimentalizing history and scripture are the first baby steps toward revising or even demolishing the same. Later on comes the Rethinking Columbus brand of multi-culti revisionism that seeks to subvert the Western cultural paradigm and remove it altogether.
Somewhere between these two spins on Thanksgiving (the bourgeois sentimentalizing of the early 1900’s and the anti–Christian one-worldism of the Multi-Culti Left) is the Liberal rewriting of the old Dutch hymn Wilt Heden Nu Treden. The song was first written in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius to celebrate a Dutch military victory against Spain. Strangely, in the original it is a martial hymn; no harvest feasting imagery in it at all.
I learned this liberalized PC version at my elementary school in Cambridge, MA sometime in the early 70’s. The words are still graven in my memory and I always remember them at this time of year:
“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing
to work for a world without fear, without war.
Unite all our people, bring peace to every nation
Oh help us in our efforts; Oh Lord make us free.”
These sentiments are all very noble and good – but they are a man-centered deviation from the original version, a version I never heard until much later. I believe the above words are from a late 60’s or 70’s Congregational hymnal but I cannot find them anywhere online.
Here is the original English translation (1894) of Valerius’ hymn for you to compare:
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!
Having learned more about the cultural and historical context of this hymn, I appreciate its stirring poetry even more. Since I do not speak Dutch, I am unable to verify this, but apparently the original is a bit different in tone from the English translation.
Perhaps Richard Dawkins can give us a more updated and enlightened version for our own day !
May God bless you and your family. Save some turkey for the protesters out in the cold on Plymouth Rock. Happy Thanksgiving 2011.