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Dutch national anthem

The Wilhelmus ("Het Wilhelmus") is the official national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world. The anthem tells of the "Dutch founding father" William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, his life and why he is fighting for the Dutch people. As a consequence, the Wilhelmus is written as if it were sung by William himself.

The tune of the anthem is based on a French soldiers' song "Autre chanson de la ville de Chartres assiégée par le prince de Condé", which was sung at the time of the siege of the French city of Chartres in 1568 by the Hugenots.

The melody was further developed by the Dutch composer Adriaen Valerius around the time period 1575-1625. The official version of the Dutch national anthem is the arrangement by Walther Boer, dating from 1932.

The origins of the text are not clear, but it is said that Flemish and Dutch writer and statesman Marnix van St. Aldegonde wrote the text between 1570 and 1572 in the Dutch town of West-Souburg. Marnix van St. Aldegonde studied theology under John Calvin and Theodore Beza at Geneva and returned to the Netherlands in 1560.

After spending some time in Friesland Marnix van St. Aldegonde was taken into the service of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange in 1570, and in 1572 was sent as his representative to the first meeting of the States-General assembled at Dordrecht.

The complete text of the anthem comprises of fifteen stanzas. The Wilhelmus is an acrostic: the first letters of the 15 stanzas forms the name:
W I L L E M V A N N A S S O V, Willem van Nassov, i.e. William "the Silent" of Nassau, the Prince of Orange.

Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 1

William of Nassau, Of a German/Dutch and ancient (blood) line,
I dedicate undying, Faith to this land of mine.
A prince I am, undaunted, Of Orange, ever free
To the king of Spain I've granted, A lifelong loyalty.

Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 2I've ever tried to live in
The fear of God's command
And therefore I've been driven,
From people, home, and land,
But God, I trust, will rate me
His willing instrument
And one day reinstate me
Into my government.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 3Let no despair betray you,
My subjects true and good.
The Lord will surely stay you
Though now you are pursued.
He who would live devoutly
Must pray God day and night
To throw His power about me
As champion of your right.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 4Life and my all for others
I sacrificed, for you!
And my illustrious brothers
Proved their devotion too.
Count Adolf, more's the pity,
Fell in the Frisian fray,
And in the eternal city
Awaits the judgement day.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 5I, nobly born, descended
From an imperial stock.
An empire's prince, defended
(Braving the battle's shock
Heroically and fearless
As pious Christian ought)
With my life's blood the peerless
Gospel of God our Lord.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 6A shield and my reliance,
O God, Thou ever wert.
I'll trust unto Thy guidance.
O leave me not ungirt.
That I may stay a pious
Servant of Thine for aye
And drive the plagues that try us
And tyranny away.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 7My God, I pray thee, save me
From all who do pursue
And threaten to enslave me,
Thy trusted servant true.
O Father, do not sanction
Their wicked, foul design,
Don't let them wash their hands in
This guiltless blood of mine.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 8O David, thou soughtest shelter
From King Saul's tyranny.
Even so I fled this welter
And many a lord with me.
But God the Lord did save me
From exile and its hell
And, in His mercy, gave him
A realm in Israel.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 9Fear not 't will rain sans ceasing
The clouds are bound to part.

I bide that sight so pleasing
Unto my princely heart,
Which is that I with honor
Encounter death in war,
And meet in heaven my Donor,
His faithful warrior.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 10Nothing so moves my pity
As seeing through these lands,
Field, village, town and city
Pillaged by roving hands.
O that the Spaniards rape thee,
My Netherlands so sweet,
The thought of that does grip me
Causing my heart to bleed.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 11A stride on steed of mettle
I've waited with my host
The tyrant's call to battle,
Who durst not do his boast.
For, near Maastricht ensconced,
He feared the force I wield.
My horsemen saw one bounce it
Bravely across the field.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 12Surely, if God had willed it,
When that fierce tempest blew,
My power would have stilled it,
Or turned its blast from you
But He who dwells in heaven,
Whence all our blessings flow,
For which aye praise be given,
Did not desire it so.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 13Steadfast my heart remaineth
In my adversity
My princely courage straineth
All nerves to live and be.
I've prayed the Lord my Master
With fervid heart and tense
To save me from disaster
And prove my innocence.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 14Alas! my flock. To sever
Is hard on us. Farewell.
Your Shepherd wakes, wherever
Dispersed you may dwell,
Pray God that He may ease you.
His Gospel be your cure.
Walk in the steps of Jesus
This life will not endure.
Wilhelmus - Dutch national anthem - stanza 15Unto the Lord His power
I do not confession make
That ne'er at any hour
Ill of the King I spake.
But unto God, the greatest
Of Majesties I owe
Obedience first and latest,
For Justice wills it so.