O Canada and ‘het Wilhelmus’

Some time ago, I attended at the Netherlands Canada Friendship Day activities in Burlington ON. This is an annual event remembering the twinning of the city of Burlington with the city of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands.

That Saturday in May remembrance ceremony, was attended by the Mayor Rick Goldrich and Consul General in Toronto for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Anne Van Leeuwen and Elizabeth Witmer, past deputy Premier of Ontario, (born in the Netherlands) and several Armed Forces WW2 veterans and cadets.

The two flags were raised and the National Anthems sung for Canada (O Canada) and the Netherlands (the Wilhelmus).

In his address to those in attendance, the Consul General mentioned that 2 verses of the ‘Wilhelmus’ is always sung at important occasions and since this ‘Friendship Day’ event also remembers the liberation of the Netherlands by the Canadian forces in 1945 from the oppression of the Nazi regime and the expression of thankfulness of the Dutch people for that gift of freedom obtained and freely given by Canadian men and women (some were just teenagers) has always been fondly and thankfully celebrated and so has cemented close friendships and bonds between our two countries.

The Consul General reminded us that when we sing the second verse, we are reminded that it contains a phrase that says: ‘de tierannie verdrijven, die mij mijn hart doorwond’ (‘to drive out the tyranny that wounds my entire heart’) a wish and a prayer expressed by Prince Wilhelm of Nassau to rid the country of the ‘tyranny’ by others, brought upon the Dutch people back in 1568 and beyond when they struggled for independence and freedom.

This was a timely and popular reminder by the Consul General of ‘terror’ and ‘tyranny’ that we have seen very recently in various places in the world, especially in Europe but also in Canada & USA, and how precious and thin that freedom(ed) reality is and how it can be breached suddenly by slanderous speech, actions and misplaced truths,  (and in 2020 by a terroristly contagious virus) if we do not, every day, practice ‘freedom expressions of protection of others’ in our own attitudes and life walk, also here in beautiful Canada.

This was a notable and timely reminder of the constant watchfulness of the protection of ‘freedom’ ways that we enjoy in our present every day circumstances. Thank you Mr. Consul General!

However, the second verse that is sung also starts with a confessional statement that God is our shield and trusted truth keeper, (‘Mijn schild en de betrouwe, zijt Gij O God…..’) (‘My shield and trusty One are you, O God….’) in that He never leaves us if we are steadfast, faithful and truthful and honourable to Him and our neighbours every day and in every way. (Jesus’ Golden Rule: Love God and your neighbour as yourself’) Then, as his servants, we will defeat the (evil) tyranny that does so wound (our) my (people’s) hearts. This is a circular one way rule for you and I, and I and you, and you and I. This rule is the second greatest rule besides ‘Loving God’ yet as Jesus[2] said: For the Christian, the two belong to and are inseparable from each other.

This speaks of Christian walk and concern. Jesus taught us to be followers of Him, good people and faithful citizen practicing goodwill and compassion in our own land. May that spirit (law) of truth and justice be practiced and preached in all our circles, in government, neighbourhoods, schools, organizations, businesses and families. Then perhaps we too may even give up our lives, as some also did years ago, for such a place (country) where this is practiced and experienced every day. Thank God, we have this blessing in Canada and also in the Netherlands!

LATER: Thinking on this on Canada Day July 1, 2020, I also observed that we too have this sentiment and wish spoken in our Canadian National Anthem. In the second stanza often sung ( although sadly now more infrequently) we hear: ‘Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer, hold our Dominion in thy loving care; Help us to find, O God, in thee a lasting, rich reward, as waiting for the better Day, We ever stand on guard.

May we ever be consciously and prayerfully ‘on guard’ in physical and communal ways for that great and rich reward of freedom. This is also covered by Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) which expresses in its preamble that: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law: …………. 2. Everyone has the fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association………….

Excerpts from: http://www.charterofrights.ca/en/27_00_01

The apostle Paul also instructs us in his letter to the Romans Chapter 12 (New Living Translation (NLT)

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge;    I will pay them back,”[g]    says the Lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”[h]21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.


  1. Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, ben ik van Duitsen bloed. Den vaderland getrouwe blijf ik tot in den dood. Een Prinse van Oranje ben ik, vrij onverveerd, den Koning van Hispanje, heb ik altijd geëerd.
  2. Mijn schild ende betrouwen zijt Gij, O God mijn Heer, op U zo wil ik bouwen, verlaat mij nimmermeer. Dat ik doch vroom mag blijven, uw dienaar t’aller stond, de tirannie verdrijven
    die mij mijn hert doorwondt.

    source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/n/nationalanthemlyrics/netherlandsnationalanthemlyrics.html

[1] Like many anthems, the Wilhelmus originated in the nation’s struggle to achieve independence in the 16th Century. It tells of Willem van Oranje (William of Orange), his life, and why he is fighting against the operssion of the King of Spain.[4] The anthem is written in the first person, and sounds as if William of Orange himself is speaking, the ‘ick’ -word (Early Modern Dutch) in the 1st stanza: Wilhelmus van Nassouwe ben ick (am I) van Duytschen bloet (“William of Nassau, was a German Prince”). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelmus

[2] Jesus words in the Gospel of Mark chapter 12 verses 30 & 31