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Prayer of Thanksgiving

Just BARELY in time for Thanksgiving-- sorry for the delay.  Anyway, here it is.  I’ve never performed it before an audience, but it’s easy enough to play, fingerstyle or flat-picked.  It’s short enough that you may prefer to use it as an introduction to a vocal accompaniment.  There are NO difficult chords or transitions, and you can leave out the hammer-ons and pull-offs if they are hard for you.  The only unusual chord is GaddD, but it’s very easy.  It’s played EXACTLY like G, but the ring finger is on the 2nd string instead of the 1st string, which is muted or not played.


Originally called “Wilt heden nu treden,” (We Gather Together),  the hymn was written by Adrianus Valerius in 1597, to celebrate the Dutch victory in their war of liberation against Catholic Spain.  Under Spanish rule, Protestant Dutch were forbidden to gather for worship, hence the title.  The lyrics and title we now know were written by Edward Baker in 1894.  These lyrics do not actually translate the Dutch, but they do preserve the internal rhyme scheme and much of the sentiment of the original.

The tune is an old, Dutch folk tune.  An orchestral score was first published in 1877 by Eduard Kremser, who also translated the lyrics into Latin and German.  For this reason, the tune is often called, “Kremser.”  The hymn became popular in the United States during World War Two, when “the wicked opressing” was understood to refer to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. 

In the United States, this hymn is usually associated with the Thanksgiving Day holiday, but in other parts of the world, and especially in Europe, it is more often considered a hymn of liberation from military conquest.  The hymn is in the public domain.

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