Sheet music

NETHERLANDS, THE : Netherlands National Anthem (The Netherlands National Anthem)
Dutch National Anthem
National Anthem of The Netherlands

  • Author: Philip van Marnix von Sint Aldegonde (1540-1598)
  • Composer: Adriaan Valerius (1575-1625)
  • Adopted: 1932
  • National Day: April 30 (1980) - Queen's Day
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  • Further details: The Dutch National Anthem 'Wilhelmus' is the oldest authentically of all National Anthems (compared with the uncertain age of the National Anthem of the United Kingdom). It stems from the era of Dutch heroism, of the Dutch people's struggle against Spanish oppressors for freedom in politics and religion and is a folksong in the truest sense of the term.

    The words were written in about 1568, possibly by the poet and diplomat PHILIP van MARNIX of ST.ALDEGONDE (1540-1598), the faithful friend and ardent supporter of Prince Willem I of Orange-Nassau. In 1568, Prince Willem, who had fled The Netherlands the previous year together with thousands of his compatriots who were opposed to Spanish rule, attempted to free his country from tyranny and religious persecution, but his three invasions were completely without success. In 'Wilhelmus' the poet depicts the Prince addressing the oppressed people of The Netherlands in this terrible and dramatic situation.

    The music of 'Wilhelmus' is based on a melody, which was popular in France around 1568, alternating between four/four and three/four time. Since 1626, 'Wilhelmus' has been included in 'Nederlandtsche Gedenck-clanck tot Haarlem', by ADRIAAN VALERIUS (1575-1625) a well-known collection of national songs.

    The song is composed in the style of the sixteenth century literary societies, as can be seen from the fact that the initial letters of the fifteen verses form the name W-I-L-L-E-M V-A-N N-A-S-S-O-V; however, its sober language and the deep feelings which inspired it make 'Wilhelmus' far superior to the fashionable works of that period. The general tenor is not one of confidence in victory but rather of resignation and at best of hope for comfort and redress in the life hereafter.

    When the National Anthem is actually sung, the usual practice is to take only the first and sixth verses. In the first, Prince Willem professes that he will remain true to his country unto death, while in the sixth he prays to God for strength to rid the land of tyranny. Especially in periods of oppression these verses have held a strong appeal for the people of The Netherlands.

    The National Anthem was officially adopted on May 10 1932.

    Montage of Four Queens of the Netherlands