Year B – Proper 13 – We Gather Together

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!

This hymn has a strong Dutch background, written at a time when the Dutch Protestants were forbidden to “gather together” while under a Spanish (Roman Catholic) king, Philip II. The origin of this is adversity and religious persecution. Note the last line which calls out for liberty, “O Lord, make us free.” Though not all the original Dutch lyrics are present in our version, throughout there is a reference to the battle:

So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

In America it began to be sang in English at the beginning of the 1900s with a 19th century melody. It gained in popularity in 1935 when it was included in the Methodist Hymnal and has come to be associated with Thanksgiving.

Let us rejoice that we have the freedom to “gather together” and let us be ever mindful of the cost of that freedom.

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