1. O zalig heilig Bethlehem // Oh blessed, sacred Bethlehem
The best-loved melody of the Dutch Golden Age, used 379 times before 1750. Melody and text are from Het Prieel der Gheestelicker Melodiie of 1617, collected by Joannes Tollenarius, a Jesuit of Bruges who replaced the ‘scurrilous and frivolous’ words of secular melodies with new religious lyrics composed by himself. The melody first occurs with the air de cour ‘Ayant aymé fidellement’ in an earlier French collection. Tollenarius calls this tune ‘Hierusalem die schoone stadt’, even though the title here refers to the little town of Bethlehem, that rose to glory when Jesus was born there.
Despite its Catholic origins, the melody remained popular in Protestant circles from the 1630s to the present day, witness the many later contrafacts based on it.
The melody is credited as ‘The tune of Chartres’, referring to a jaunty Catholic satirical song about the failed siege of Chartres by the Huguenots in 1568. It is ironic that this melody was then used with a text glorifying the military commander of the Dutch Rebellion, whose name ‘Willem van Nassou’ is seen as an acrostic in the first letters of the verses.
The Wilhelmus became the anthem of the Rebellion after 1572. It was sung by soldiers and civilians and played after rebel victories, for example during the triumphal entry of William of Orange into Brussels in 1577 and after the liberation of Groningen in 1594. This song, which so emphatically celebrates the Prince, remained linked to the House of Orange for the whole of the Dutch Rebellion and has done so ever since.
2b. Het Nederlandse volkslied //The Dutch national anthem
The Wilhelmus has only been the official anthem of the Netherlands since 1932 when it replaced ‘Wien Neêrlandsch bloed door d’aderen vloeit’. The melody chosen for it then was a version by Adriaen Valerius from his Neder-landtsche Gedenck-Clanck (1626), using the words of the old song from the time of the Dutch Revolt (see 2a). Thus, in verse six we now sing ‘die mij mijn hart doorwondt’ (who wounded my heart) instead of Valerius’ ‘Die menigh hert doorsnijt’ (who cut through many a heart).
Valerius’ melody – fifty years younger than the rebel tune – is sung more slowly than it would have been in Valerius’ day, giving the song its solemn, stately character. The Wilhelmus was at first mainly popular among Orangeists and Protestants, becoming an undisputed national symbol only during World War Two. Usually only the first verse is sung, followed occasionally by verse six.
3a. Psalm 24
This melody from the Genevan Psalter is characterized by an ascending fifth at its beginning, after which it drops by a third to its ground tone. The rhythm flows easily, giving a fluidity to the texts written to it.
The Genevan melodies were transmitted to Dutch protestants via various rhymed versions including that of the poet and theologian Pieter Datheen, who translated the texts from French. The melody was so appealing to the Calvinist poet Jan Utenhove, that he wrote several versifications to it, even for other psalms than psalm 24. ‘Datheen’ was sung for a very long time by Dutch protestants, despite the poor musical fit of his text to the melody.
The introduction to this psalm versification states that it was intended to be sung when the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant to the temple from the foot of Mount (Sion). The gates of the city (Jerusalem) were exhorted to lift up their heads, i.e. raise their arches, for an all-powerful king was about to arrive. Early protestants interpreted this as foretelling the coming of Christ to earth in human form.
3b Psalm 24, Aen Jan Jacobsz Visscher, Schilder en Glaes-Schryver // To Jan Jacobsz Visscher, Painter and Glass Cutter
The melody of Psalm 24 has been used for many contrafacts, usually religious. The poet Bredero however wrote one about the Amsterdam of his day, using Datheen’s version: ‘De aerd is onses Gods voorwaer, &c.’
The song treats quarrels in the local chamber of rhetoric D’Eglentier in the years 1612-1617, in the form of a letter to a close friend, etcher and fellow society member, asking the question ‘Why does D’Eglentier not flourish as before?’ Bredero determines that the decline is due to intolerance. In verse seven Bredero defends the playwright: it is horrible when the actors begin arguing over his carefully crafted piece during rehearsals. In verse eight Bredero further berates the society’s members. Here he uses the melody of Psalm 24 for a worldly but sententious song.
4. O kerstnacht schoner dan de dagen // O Christmas eve, fairer than the days
A popular tune, despite its difficulty for singers. A simplified version is used in Dutch church services today, but is even better known in versions by popular entertainers.
The original melody which accompanies Vondel’s chorus of the Poor Clares in his tragedy Gysbreght van Aemstel (1637), is found in ’t Amsteldams Minne-Beeckie (1645). Authorship is uncertain: Cornelis Padbrué and Dirk Janszoon Sweelinck both get credit. Its presence with the same notation in various song books shows that it was in common use, often with new lyrics. For example, with a pastorale in Dubbels’ Helikon (1645) and with Vondel’s text, in the Livre Septieme, dat is Het boeck vande Zangh-kunst (1644).
In Vondel’s Gysbreght, the young Clarists are in great danger on Christmas Eve of 1307. While awaiting their assailants in the chapel, they compare their situation to Herod’s Murder of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18). They recall the patriarchess Rachel (Genesis 27-35), confident that if they too die as martyrs, their blood ‘will flower wonderfully to the glory of God’.
5. Psalm 68
A must for inclusion in a compilation made by city patriots is ‘Van de schoone Victorie van Leyden’ (On the beautiful victory of Leiden). The melody is that of Psalm 36, given in the Genevan psalter and by Datheen as Psalm 68.
First found in Een nieu Guese Liede Boecxken (1576/1577), the oldest known book of Geuzen (rebel) songs, it tells how the ‘Milaensche Commandeur’, Luis de Requesens, is sent by the Pope to succeed the Duke of Alva and spreads death and destruction in Zeeland and Holland.
In 1574 Leiden was besieged for a second time by Requesens, who tried starving out the inhabitants. The lyrics praise Prince William of Orange and the States General for flooding the countryside around the city. Despite famine and plague Leiden held out. Finally, praise is given to William of Orange and to God.
6. Tien geboden // The Ten Commandments
The coming of the Reformation to the Netherlands led various poets to translate the psalms into Dutch, working either from the Hebrew original, or from the French of the Genevan psalms. Of these Pieter Datheen was the first to finish and publish all 150 psalms. His translation from the French of 1566 was for many many years the standard rhymed text used by Protestants in the Netherlands. Along with the psalms Datheen translated the ‘ander Lofsanghen’ (‘hymns of praise’, including the canticles of Zechariah, Mary and Simeon), plus the Ten Commandments.
The lyrics of this song, taken straight from the French, render the celebrated text of Exodus into plain Dutch. Thus, Marot’s opening phrase ‘Leve le cuer’ becomes ‘Heft op u’ hert’ (‘Lift up your heart’). The melody also comes from the Genevan Psalter. Simple and is easy to learn, it was frequently used for sundry religious songs and is sung in churches to the present day, with lyrics of various stripes.
7. Si c’est pour mon pucelage // If it is for my maidenhood
Popular throughout seventeenth-century Europe, this very danceable air de cour was written by Pierre Guédron, a French court musician. In it a girl rejects a lover who covets her maidenhood; she is already promised to another. Songs of all kinds were set to this easy melody, from comic to religious, but always with an element of satire or irony.
In his contrafact on this melody, ‘Deuntien’, Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft pokes fun at the abiding, ‘pure’ love between two comic figures, using a cockeyed ideal of marriage. Whenever the newly-wed Sijbrech mistreats her husband with a bunch of keys and a Polish whip, she taunts him: ‘Reine Liefd can niet vergaen’ (True love can never die). The only course left to him is to hit his wife back, for true love must come from both sides.
8. Schoonste nimf van het woud // Fairest nymph of the wood
Two melodies are given for this title, each with the same verse scheme. The first is a French melody, composed by Nicolas de la Grotte for Ronsard’s chanson, ‘Quand ce beau printemps je vois’ (1564) . The other is Italian: ‘Bella ninfa fugitiva’, by the librettist Rinuccini, from the opera Dafne (1597). No. 8a gives the French version and 8b the Italian.
8a. Schoonste nimf van het woud // Fairest nymph of the wood
Connecting our song to the French chanson is Adriaen Valerius, who combined their two first lines when attributing a song in his Neder-landtsche Gedenck-Clanck (1626) and printed all the melodies with musical notation. The version used here is simpler and lower in pitch than the original by de la Grotte.
The melody is specified in many song collections, including Minnelycke Sangh-rympies (1634) by Jan Harmensz. Krul. He indicates it as the tune for his song ‘Die de Wereldt wel in-siet’. Krul wrote several songs to the tune of ‘Schoonste Nimphe van het Wout’, including the philosophical song offered here. He displays his sensitivity and skill in blending melody and lyrics, all of which are adapted remarkably well to the melody, which changes with the character of the songs.
8b. Amaril de deeken sacht // Amaril the soft blanket
While on the Grand Tour the young Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft may have attended a performance in Florence of the very first Italian opera, Dafne (1597), by the great Renaissance librettist Ottavio Rinuccini. It certainly inspired his love song ‘Amaril de deken sacht’, the first lines of Dafne’s final chorus – ‘Bella Nimphe fuggitiva etc. ’ – being specified as the accompanying melody. Hooft also borrowed from Rinuccini’s text the repeat of the last line of the verses, as we see in the first printed version of the song, in Den Bloem-Hof van de Nederlandsche Jeught (1610). He evidently had the Italian – not the French - melody in mind, though the latter has been preferred in editions of his songs. This repetition of the last line is used by other Dutch poets, which is why we chose the Italian melody for Hooft’s ‘Amaril’ here. Singing it to this tune gives the text the panache it deserves.
9. Engelse fortuin // English fortune
The beautiful, plaintive melody of the song ‘Fortune my foe’ was much used in both England and the Netherlands for laments and sad songs. The first contrafacts appear in around 1600 and the tune remained popular well into the eighteenth century. The melody also inspired the poet Adriaen Valerius, who used it for a lament on the murder of William of Orange in the Neder-landtsche Gedenck-Clanck (1626). Here Valerius tells the story of the Dutch revolt from the viewpoint of his suffering countrymen. Melody and text form a perfect whole: you can almost hear the rolling of funeral drums.
10a. Lofzang van Maria // Song of praise of Mary
The use of only whole and half notes gives this melody its simple, beautiful character. Originally used with Psalm 3, it appears in Pieter Datheen’s Alle de Psalmen Davids with one of the added hymns, the Magnificat of the Virgin. Melody and text have hardly changed since. The words are Mary’s in Luke 1, where she visits Elisabeth after hearing that they are both with child. Referring to prophecies in the Old Testament she thanks God and praises him: all generations shall call her blessed.
10b. Ick schouw de Werelt aen // I look upon the world
Datheen’s melody for the Lofzang van Maria (Magnificat) was re-used 285 times in the period 1535-1750, but with ever-varying titles for the tune. In Den Nieuwen Lust-hof of 1604 P.C. Hooft’s song ‘Ick schouw de Werelt aen’ gives two tune indicators: ‘Het was een Jonger helt’ and ‘Mijn siel maeckt groot den Heer’, the first line of the Song of Mary. We sourced the song used here from Hooft’s collection Emblemata amatoria of 1611, which states: ‘to the tune of: Soo ’t begint’. This may indicate that the song was by then so well known that the original title had been supplanted by the first line of ‘Ick schouw de Werelt aen’.
This love song in Emblemata Amatoria is one of many involving nymphs, as it does in Hooft’s tragedy Theseus en Ariadne, sung by the nymph Aegle. She mourns the loss of her faithless lover Theseus. The text contrasts the gaiety of songbirds, nymphs and the beasts who enjoy the pleasures of love, with the sadness of the first-person narrator , ‘ick’ [...] ‘En kanse niet ghenieten’ (I cannot enjoy it).
11. Fortuin helaas // Fortune alas
Originally a French tune, this beautiful melody led to 283 new songs. The melody was arranged by several lutenists for the Dutch market, for example, by Emanuel Adriaenssen in his Pratum Musicum as ‘Almande fortune helas’; here the melody is embellished. Some of this ornamentation is repeated by the Jesuit Tollenarius, in Het Prieel Der Gheestelicker Melodiie (1617), the most important Catholic song book of the Southern Netherlands. Tollenarius replaced the ‘scurrilous, amorous, frivolous” texts of the old ‘Flemish songs’ with new religious lyrics, but by adding musical notes to these, preserved the old melodies for us.
We have restored to ‘Fortune helas’ - the melody preserved by Tollenarius, which he made into a hymn to the Virgin – its original ‘irreligious’ text. In this a lover begs his sweetheart to come quench his ardour, before he dies desolate.
12a. De lustelijke mei is nu in de tijd // Now is the plaisant May
This cheerful tune comes from Souter Liedekens (1540), a collection of all 150 psalms in rhymed Dutch set to popular tunes garnered from the streets and hostelries. A smart move by the writer – traditionally Willem van Zuylen van Nyevelt – who realised that this was the way to get young people singing psalms. And he succeeded: the collection enjoyed long popularity. Thanks to the Souter Liedekens, that gives all the melodies in musical notation, the tune of ‘Den lustelijcken mey’ has been preserved. His Psalm 73 is set ‘to the tune of Den mey staet vrolijck in sinen tijt’.
In the text we meet a lover with a group of young men praising the month of May, when both love and the natural world blossom again. The swains go past the houses of their girls to offer May branches: a sprouting twig is fixed to their windows as a love token. The youths call out to cut a Maypole in the woods and erect it in the town or village centre. Dancing takes place around the pole during the May celebrations.
12b. Den lusteliken mey Cristus playsant // Christ the plaisant May
This song, the oldest source for the melody of 12a, is from Een Devoot ende Profitelijck Boecxken (1539), which provides musical notation for each melody. Set to secular tunes, these devotional songs are superb examples of contrafacts, containing elements of earlier secular versions.
The secular text has been clearly recast for religious use. The central idea is no longer a Maypole around which people dance to celebrate love, but Christ, who is both the tree and fount of eternal life. Elements of the love song re-appear in the form of the May branch and the dew, but here they apply to Christ.
13a. Sei tanto graziosa
A song composed by Giovanni Ferretti, famous for his cheery madrigals. The Antwerp lutenist Emanuel Adriaenssen arranged a five-part version for his Pratum musicum (1584). He separately notated the upper part, our melody, putting the remaining four voices into lute tablature. The melody was thus originally polyphonic but has ended up among the contrafacts. 277 songs were written to this lively tune, also later known as ‘O schoonste personage’.
Gerbrand Adriaensz. Bredero’s tragicomedy Lucelle contains one such. At the beginning of the second act, Lucelle has penned a song expressing her love for Ascagnes. She asks her friend Margriet to sing it for her and we learn that this perfect youth can rhyme skillfully, speak flawlessly, write animatedly - but what use is this to her if she cannot have him?
13b. Op danckbare ghedachten! // Come thankful thoughts!
Like Bredero, Catharina Verwers, the Dutch Republic’s first female playwright, used this popular melody for a song in her comedy Spaensche heydin (1644), a reworking for the theatre of a novella by Miguel de Cervantes, first staged in 1644 and performed for several years thereafter. Not the first such, but Verwers’s adaptation was a tour de force with important female roles.
In act 1 the gypsy girl Preciose sings of the glories of summer and the nobleman Don Jan becomes enchanted by the ‘charming sound’. She turns out to be Princess Constance who was stolen as a baby, which solves the problem of their unequal social rank. In the happy ending she marries Don Jan.
14. Psalm 100
Originally a Hebrew introit, this much-loved early Calvinist psalm calls upon us to give glory to God in song. John Calvin gave psalm-singing an important place in the liturgy; in his words, ‘when we sing, we can be sure that God puts the words into our mouths, as if He Himself were singing within us’. Calvin saw singing as a liturgical activity in itself, where we communicate with God in a non-rational way. By singing we receive His healing power, for when you sing, God’s salvation drips ‘directly into your soul as through a funnel’.
15. De tijd is hier // The time is here
This cheerful melody was that of the sad song ‘Tribulatie en verdriet’, a ‘rhetorician’s’ song found in many collections, but also the tune specified for several sixteenth-century scriptural songs. Our text, the May song ‘Den tijt is hier’, is what made the melody widely popular.
May Songs are a special category of love songs. In this one the Maypole is everywhere, ‘very gay’, and youths bring ‘charming May twigs’ around ‘with merriment’ for their sweethearts. The origin of the song in a Chamber of Rhetoric is clear from the last verse, which addresses the Prince, i.e. the head of the Chamber, the Catharinisten in Aalst: the last line ‘Liefste verwint’ alludes to their motto ‘Liefde verwint’ (Love triumphs).
16a. Psalm 8
A lively melody from the Genevan verse Psalter, made to provide Reformed church services with songs. The melody was so popular that it was used for both rhymed psalms and hymns. Jan van der Noot of Antwerp set psalm 8 elegantly to verse for his anthology Het Bosken, published in 1570 in London, where he had been banished by the Spanish commander Alva for his rebel sympathies.
Psalm 8 is a hymn to the glory of creation. God has made Man such that he lacks nothing, for, says Van der Noot, ‘you have showered him with glory, filled him with good things, endowed him with honours.’ The whole natural world is in thrall to Man, from beasts, to fish and ‘the little birds that fly and sing’.
16b. O groote God! // Oh great God!
Four of the 17 psalms put to verse by the poetess Anna Roemers Visscher appeared in print in her anthology of Zeeland’s best contemporary poetry, Zeeusche Nachtegael (1623), including this psalm 8. Her version marked an improvement over those of Pieter Datheen, using for example the correct accents and offering a text that flowed better with the melody.
17. Belle Iris
This melody is from Ballet Royal de l’Impatience, a French musical play by the court composer Lully and the poet de Bensérade. Its première in 1661 featured Louis XIV as a lover serenading his mistress, ‘Sommes nous pas trop heureux, Belle Iris que vous en semble?’ This gives us the title of the tune specified here: ‘Belle Iris’, which is also sometimes given as ‘Sommes nous pas trop heureux’ and ‘Sur le Balet Royal’. The music is from MS Finspong (ca. 1690); there are transcriptions in the Netherlands Song Database.
The text we use - ‘Klagte van een min-sieke Maegt’ – comes from Het Soes-dijcker Nachtegaeltje. A young woman asks Sinterklaas (Santa) for a special present, a boyfriend ‘who will satisfy my need for love’. Santa always gave her what she requested – earrings, handkerchiefs. Now she wants a pleasant, reliable man – and good in bed! If she conceives a child with him, then she will call it ‘Klaasje’, as a thank-you to Sinterklaas.
18a. Ik drink de nieuwe most // I drink the new must
This jolly dance tune was written down by Jacob van Eyck in Der Fluyten Lust-hof (1649), a collection of the best-known melodies of his day. The melody of ‘Ick drink de niewe most’ remained popular in the Netherlands for two centuries and was re-used countless times.
In this case a love song has been written using it, with a text from Lente-bloemtjes, geworpen in de schoot van aangename Juffers (1682). Once again, a tormented lover burns with passion for his sweetheart, Cloris, who has the best features of three goddesses: Venus, Juno, and Athene. Whereas Paris had to choose between the three, Cloris possesses all their qualities. His sighs are supposed to convey a lover’s pain to her. Maybe they can find their way past her hardness of heart or persuade her to think of him again.
18b. O Goddelijcke strael! // Oh divine ray!
A female religious of Ghent, known today as Sister vanden Kerchove, used popular secular melodies and dances for which to write 294 devotional songs, of which only part, Het II. Deel Vanden Speel-Hof der Liefde Godts (1666), ever appeared in print. Her songs remind us strongly of the texts of the Devotio Moderna, with their talk of renouncing worldly pleasures.
The Speel-Hof opens with dance tunes, some dealing with people who have ‘left the world but could not control the flesh’, unable to take the ‘long narrow road that leads to eternal life’. ‘O Goddelijcke strael’ (no. 18b) tells the story of ‘a valiant warrior’ who does indeed manage to live a spiritual life. For, says the good Sister in her introduction, he who ‘walks through this courtyard’, will ‘learn to tame the rebellious flesh.’
19. Courante monsieur
This is a courante, a popular dance played at festivities, as is clear from Oude en Nieuwe Hollantse Boerenlieties en Contredansen (1701-1714) which prints melodies intended for playing on instruments.
In his Helikon, bestaande in zangen, kusjes, en mengel-rijm (1645) Pieter Dubbels composed saucy lyrics to this tune. A lover kisses his Rozemond and asks for more. Kissing is all very well, yet if only they could share a marriage bed!
20. Te mei als alle vogels zingen // In May when all birds sing
This ballad-like melody – already in use for songs in the sixteenth century – is known in the Netherlands Song Database as ‘Te mey als alle de Vogelkens singhen’, though cannot be found as a song text before Amoureuze Liedekens (1613).
The text of ‘Hoort toe ghy menschen nu ter tijdt’ from Een Nieu Guese Liede Boecxken (1576/1577) fits the tune well. The anonymous lyricist warns pro-Spanish townspeople in the Netherlands against trusting the promises of the Spanish. Rotterdam, Mechelen, Zutphen, Naarden en Assendelft were subjected to plunder and massacre despite assurances. Alkmaar was not fooled and turned the tide of victory!
21. Polyphemus aan de stranden // Polyphemus on the shores
A French melody, ‘Belle bergère champêtre’, whose name was corrupted by Cornelis Stribee to ‘Belle bersieere s Ian Peetre’ as the tune indicator for his song about the cyclops Polyphemus. The melody in the Netherlands Song Database acquired the name of Stribee’s well-known song : ‘Polyphemus aan de stranden’. Here we have the oldest version of this melody with a fast syncopated beat.
The text used here is Stribee’s own, from his Chaos ofte Verwerden Clomp (1641, 2nd edition 1643) and tells the tale from Ovid (Metamorphoses 13) of how Polyphemus falls in love with the nymph Galatea. He spruces himself up, climbs onto a rock and starts singing. Galatea is however in love with the beautiful youth Acis and rejects Polyphemus’ advances. The cyclops takes his revenge by crushing Acis with a rock.
22. Rozemond die lag gedoken // Rozemond lay a-hiding
Jacob van Eyck, famous as a carillon and recorder player, wrote down popular melodies of his day in Der Fluyten Lust-hof: first the unembellished tune, then his own variations. His work forms an important source for Dutch songs of the seventeenth century.
The catchy melody fits well with the narrative and erotic character of the song, which is first found in the Laurier-Krans der amoureusen (Haarlem, 1643). One day, the shepherd Philander sets out to pluck ‘a rose’. Following Cupid’s advice, he finds Rosemond sleeping under a bush of red roses.
23. Nerea schoonste van uw geburen // Nerea, fairest of your kind
A rousing melody, suggesting pride and indignation. The text to song no. 23, ‘Fortuna goet’, displays both: it concerns the succession following the death of Philip II of Spain. In this ‘call and response’ song Philip‘s daughter, Isabella, engages in a fierce battle of words with her half-brother Philip III: Isabella, not Philip, should be ruler of Spain. He is the result of an incestuous union. She boasts of her more exalted origins and is sure of the support of the nobility, while Philip III relies on the Catholic church and the tradition of male succession to the throne.
The song forms the final part of Het Beclach der Spaenscher Naty. The division of roles is unclear in the handwritten text (1597-98) of the author, Laurens Jacobsz Reael; for that reason we have used the printed text of 1598.
24a. Sarabande Pinel
This cheerful melody takes its name from the French court musician Pinel, lute teacher of the later Louis XIV. His sarabande, later known as Serbande, was popular in the Netherlands to the end of the seventeenth century.
The text is a carol, from a collection of songs for the church year, ’t Ronde Jaer (Antwerp, 1644), which was frequently reprinted. The stated author is C.V.M.P.V.Sw., probably Christianus Vermeulen alias Molina, pastor in Zoeterwoude. The refrain repeatedly asks why the tiny child Jesus would love Man ‘who never deserved such a friend’. The answer comes in the last couplet: the Child is Himself Love.
24b. Mocht ick ô Swaentjen // If I could, O Swaantje
The melody from Pieter Dubbels’ Helikon (1645) has a more embellished refrain than in 24a. It is also indicated as ‘Nu sich ondanckbaer toont mijn Herderinne’ in the Netherlands Song Database.
The text of ‘Mocht ick ô Swaentje’ is from Amsteldamsche Minne-zuchjens (1643), an anthology dedicated by its editor to ‘the young women of Amsterdam; true pearls in our crown’. The text presents the loved one as a swan (‘Swaentje’ - a girl’s name). The love-sick suitor worries when she flies up into ‘strange currents’ and looks for a feather as a token of her favour.
25. Schoon lief wil my troost geven // Fair love, pray give me comfort
This brisk, frequently used melody has many names: it is called ‘Allemande la Isappelle’ in the Thysius MS and ‘C’est pour vous madame’ in Emanuel Adriaenssen’s lute arrangement of 1600. The name used here is ‘Schoon lief wilt my troost geven’, although we know of no song with this first line.
The poet Bredero used the tune for various songs. The text, from De Groote Bron der Minnen (1622), is one of his famous Margriet poems. The first-person narrator meets a young woman and is at once impressed by her intelligence, beauty, eloquence, wide reading, wit and insight. She is as beautiful as Venus, as wise as Pallas Athene (Minerva). Well may she be called Margriet - pearl.
26. O nacht jaloerse nacht // O night, jealous night
This song by Philippe Desportes was very popular in France and the melody is found in an edition of Le Recueil des plus belles et excellentes chansons (Parijs 1588). Desportes’ text was used for various Dutch translations which follow the French original fairly faithfully, among them ‘O Nacht jaloersche nacht’ in the collection Apollo of Ghesangh der Musen, wiens lieflijcke stemmen merendeels in vrolijcke en eerlijcke gheselschappen werden ghesonghen (1615). Oddly, the tune specified in Apollo is ‘Esprits qui souspirez’, another melody, first found in a Paris collection of 1596. Gabriel Bataille, who later published it with a lute intabulation, says this song is by Pierre Guédron. This melody is found nowhere in Dutch sources and very difficult to sing, making it an unlikely starting point for contrafacts. Other Dutch translations of Desportes’ poem and those contrafacts that specify a melody confirm that our song from Apollo should be used with the tune ‘O nacht jaloerse nacht’, the titles having merged later in the seventeenth century.
The first-person narrator reproaches the moon goddess Selene for not shrouding the earth in darkness, but with starlight. He now cannot enter unseen into the house of his sweetheart. Why is Selene not helping him? Did she not once allow herself to be seduced by Pan disguised as a sheep? And did she also not secretly make love to the shepherd Endymion at night? As it gets light, the lover is still roaming around, unsatisfied.
27. Onze vader in hemelrijk // Our Father that art in heaven
A melody first found in Geistliche Lieder auffs new gebessert und gemehrt (Leipzig 1539), with an attribution to Martin Luther. While Luther wrote a verse text of the Lord’s Prayer it is not clear that he wrote the melody used here.
Luther’s text was translated by Jan Utenhove of Ghent as ‘Vader onser’ (1557), from 1561 ‘Onse vader’, for the Netherlands refugee community in London, of which he was an elder. They would have attached great meaning to the words ‘Deliver us from all evil, in these evil times, Lord’. Utenhove’s ‘Onse vader’ was included by Philips Marnix van St. Aldegonde in his book of psalms of 1580: ‘translated from High German into the Dutch language by Jan Uytenhove’.
28. Psalm 118
Psalm 118 is found in the Genevan Psalter as ‘Rendez à Dieu louange’, in Clément Marot’s rhymed version, and the first line of Marot’s Psalm was used by Jan Fruytiers to specify the tune for ‘In Davidts tijt niet langh te voren’.
The latter is a hymn to King David, who defeats Goliath and the Philistines, wrangles lions and bears, and praises God with his psalms, appointing singers to sing them. Fruytiers’ ‘CIIII. Liedeken’ is included in his Ecclesiasticus (1565), adapted from the apocryphal Wisdom of Jesus Sirach as ‘songs for trained and ordinary voices’. It contains notated music for the songs and forms an important source for melodies from the sixteenth century. Although Philip II had granted it a six-year privilege, it was banned in 1569 by Alva. Jan Fruytiers was a Calvinist from the Southern Netherlands, who was forced to flee from Antwerp, living later in Emden, Leiden and Dordrecht.
29. Psalm 23
The melody of Psalm 23 (‘the Lord is my Shepherd’) comes from the early Reformation and appeared in print in Strasbourg after 1543. It is one of the oldest psalm melodies in the Genevan Psalter, written in the old church Dorian mode.
The text is a fiercely anti-Catholic song from the start of the Revolt and appears in Een nieu Geusen Lieden Boecxken (1581), which also contains the Wilhelmus. The lyricist is the rhetorician and schoolmaster Pieter Sterlincx, a Protestant often on the run. He addresses in this song the ‘friends’ who are ‘God’s chosen’ and cautions the ‘Tyrants great in power’.
30. Cette cruelle
‘Cette cruelle (ne me peut servir)’ is the seventh line of ‘Ha que le ciel est contraire à ma vie’, a French air de cour from 1635. Ever popular, it is found in the Counter-Reformation song book Den Gheestelycken Leeuwercker (1645) by Guilielmus Bolognino. Here all melodies are written out as notes, which makes it an important source for the Netherlandish contrafact.
The text comes from the collection Klagende Maeghden (1634) by Jacob Cats. ‘Cette cruelle’ is used as tune indicator for his ‘Boeren lof, Tegen’t hof’ which is one of the three songs that Cats wrote to this melody. Here he exalts pure country living, as a counter to the fawning luxury of court life.
31. Het daagt in de oosten // It is dawning in the east
This rich, melancholic melody is known from Souter Liedekens (1540), where psalm texts in Dutch are set to popular melodies, written out in musical notation. There our tune was used for psalm 4. The text is from the Antwerps liedboek (1544), with songs designed to ‘to drive out sorrow and melancholy’.
The speakers are a ‘bold knight’ and a ‘young girl’, and from the fifth verse on a narrator. There has been a night-time duel between the knight and a rival, in which the rival was killed. As morning comes, the knight wants to flee with the girl, who refuses. He tells her that the body of her lover is lying under the green linden tree. She finds it and feels desolated, as there is no one to help her bury her dead sweetheart, which she has ultimately to do herself. In her grief she retires to a nunnery.
32a. Het vinnige stralen van de zon // The fierce rays of the sun
This playful, halting melody is known because Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft used it in his play Granida (1605). Here, from Hooft’s Emblemata Amatoria of 1611, the melody is still called ‘Het soud' een Maysjen ter hayde gaen’, but in later editions ‘Alst begint’ sufficed.
In Hooft’s song a shepherdess (Dorilea) is sheltering from the fierce sun in a woodland grove and imagines all the love-making that has gone on there. She is in love with a shepherd (Daifilo), but shepherds are always said to be unreliable. Can she trust him? Does she dare make love with him? Fortunately, groves cannot talk!
32b. Dat sou een moey meisie te reyden gaen // A pretty girl was to go a-riding
Before Hooft’s song became better known, this melody was indicated as 'Het soud' een Maysjen ter hayde gaen', as in the first line of 32b. The version of the melody chosen here - from Het Prieel der Gheestelicker Melodiie (1617) - is even livelier than Hooft’s song because of its descending thirds in the third and fourth lines.
The text is by Antonis van Butevest of Leiden, transcribed from the manuscript by Karel Bostoen. Here a young woman goes out and comes across a hazel tree which praises her for her beauty and warns her not to lose her honour. The girl then decides not to go to her lover. The final verse calls on ‘young fellows’ to seek their fun elsewhere, so that the girls keep their honour and young men need feel no shame.
33. Zal ik nog langer in hete tranen // Shall I still in burning tears
This popular melody is preserved because Dirck Rafaelsz. Camphuysen specified it in Stichtelycke rymen (1624) for use with another song. The first two lines of the tune seem to ask a question, which the rest answer, while its second half begins with two short phrases with a repeated rhyme, a pattern we see in the lyrics of songs set to this melody.
The song book Laurier-Krans der Amoureusen (1643) contains lyrics with the name of this melody as the first line. It is an anguished confession of love by a youth to a young woman. He has silently loved her for two years, which feel like a thousand. Now she is of an age for love, she does not even give him a glance.
34a. Het viel een hemelse dauw // A heavenly dew fell
This melody is from Een Devoot ende Profitelijck Boecxken (1539), a little book of devotional songs which supplies all the tunes though without pulse, embellishments and runs, making the attractive melody of ‘Het viel eens hemels douwe’ subdued and pious. The lyric too is moving and tells in a simple way the Christmas story from Luke 2, ending in a prayer to Mary for intercession.
34b. Het viel eens hemels douwe // Heavenly dew once fell
This melody of ‘Het viel een hemelse dauw’ comes from Souter Liedekens (1540), an important source for melodies from the 16th and 17th centuries. Souterliedekens are Dutch versified psalms, set to popular melodies. Unlike 34a this version has rhythm and runs, and is much more playful.
The text - from the Antwerps liedboek - is a May song in which a ‘noble chevalier’ attempts to win over his beloved by hanging a flowering branch on her house. She lets him in and they spend the night together, but it is far too short. As the sun rises the watchman warns the lovers they have to leave: ‘a time will return when you will be happy together.’
34c. Het viel een hemels dauwe (hs. Soeterbeeck à 2) // A heavenly dew once fell, for 2 voices, from the Soeterbeeck MS.
This melody is found as a two-part version in a late fifteenth-century manuscript from Soeterbeeck, once a convent of the Devotio Moderna. The melody differs greatly from that of 34a, and seems to have been specially composed for an already familiar text. Contrary to assumptions, it may well be older than the secular song found in the Antwerps liedboek of 1544 (34b). The religious song is used in a source from 1522 (MS Meerman, KB Brussel) as a tune indicator: ‘Het viel eens hemels douwe op een cleyn maechdekijn’.
As for the text: this is virtually identical with that of 34a, a simple version of the Christmas story in Luke 2, that culminates in a prayer to Mary for intercession.
35. Amarilli mia bella
From Caccini‘s Le Nuove Musiche (1602), this love song was much loved throughout (Western) Europe, including the Netherlands, as is clear from this translation in Het Eerste Deel Van d' Amsteldamsche Minne-zuchjens (1643). The melody there is rather simpler than Caccini‘s, especially in the last line, where the original coloraturae are omitted. What we do still hear is the rising threefold call to ‘Amarilli’, giving urgency to the lover’s persuasion of his beloved.
Amsteldamsche Minne-zuchjens offers two versions of the text: the original Italian one and a faithful translation into Dutch which matches the melody extremely well. We recognize the Petrarchian imagery in the love lyrics: fair Amaryllis’ wooer is so eager to make clear his love for her that he would let her use his arrows to open his breast. Then she could see that his love for her is written ‘on his heart’.
36. Een amoureus fier gelaat // A proud loving face
Few of the 197 songs recorded in the Netherlands Song Database as being set to this melody actually specify ‘Een amoureus fier gelaat’ as the tune indicator. In the Aemstelredams Amoreus Lietboeck (1589) the tune given for ‘Een Amoreus een fiere ghelaet’ is ‘Van Syon’, meaning probably ‘O Sion wilt u vergaeren’ of 1552. Two sources entitled ‘Een amoureus fier gelaat’ are scored for the cittern (1568 and 1570), showing the melody’s popularity with lute and cittern players; indeed it has largely been transmitted in tablature. Our source from Het Prieel der Gheestelicker Melodiie (1617) with its runs seems also to be based on an instrumental version.
The text begins with a plaint by a lover, begging his adored ‘Venus Nichte’ to open her window to hear his declaration of love. Her reaction comes in the fourth verse and the narrator tells us what happens next: after the lovers greatly delighted in one another, outdoors in a clump of roses, the wooer bids his farewell, ‘For now I must leave / even though it pains my heart.’
37a. Psalm 6
Our text is from the rhymed Boeck der Psalmen Davids (1580) of Philips van Marnix van St. Aldegonde, who set his Dutch translation of the Hebrew psalms to the melodies of the Genevan Psalter for the use of his oppressed countrymen. King David is experiencing great mental and physical pain. He begs the Lord for deliverance from his suffering.
37b. Misericordiam & iudicium (Psalm 101 Utenhove)
Jan Utenhove of Ghent put into verse a number of psalms and hymns in common use by the Protestant refugee community in London. He used for psalm 101 the melody of psalm 6 from the Genevan psalter. With the accession of Mary Tudor in 1553, the Dutch-speaking refugees were forced to flee again, many to Emden, where Gillis van der Erven, also from Ghent, published 25 of Utenhove‘s psalms and hymns under the title of 25. PSALMEN end andere ghesanghen diemen in de Duydtsche Ghemeynte te Londen, was ghebruyckende (1551, repr. 1557).
Psalm 101 gives David’s promise as new king of Israel in Jerusalem to drive out all evil doers and deceivers and to appoint only faithful servants. God’s word could thus be proclaimed from the cleansed city of Jerusalem over the whole world. In his introduction Utenhove’s wishes that the authorities of his day would act just as David had; while heads of families should also follow his example: ‘om haer so in haer huysghesin te draghen’ ‘to act in the same way in their own families’.
38. Psalm 116
The jolly melody of the Genevan Psalter’s Psalm 116 inspired Jacob van de Vivere to write ‘Den Choor der Enghelen’, the finale of the ‘Christelicke Uyt-spraecke van de Ghenadighe Verlossinghe der Stede Leyden’. Van de Vivere tells the youth of Leiden the story of the city’s siege and relief in 1574: ‘Lo! Then came the Plague. Hunger and Plague made the burghers miserable’. He was apparently inspired by God’s Wisdom, which had “kissed” him day and night.
The text urges the people of Leiden to thank God, the ‘Helper’. Though He may seem to have abandoned them, they can be sure that ‘God’s Wisdom’ will deliver all those in peril. The last verse includes the author’s wordplay on his own name.
39a. Psalm 103
Like all psalm melodies in the Top 40, this comes from the Genevan Psalter (1562) which put the psalms into French verse, with specially composed tunes, for the use of Reformed churches.
We use the Dutch translation of the French text by the poet and theologian Pieter Datheen, from his collection De Psalmen Davids (1566). Despite some rough edges, it was long the version officially used by Calvinist churches in the Low Countries. Here King David praises God and calls upon ‘all creation’ to acclaim him. God is ‘merciful’, ‘gracious’, and ‘slow to anger’. He not only makes us cheerful, but even completely rejuvenates us, as an eagle renews itself over its life.
39b. Wel op myn luth // Come then my lute
Psalm melodies were so popular in our period that secular texts were set to them too. Although ‘Wel op myn luth’ has no tune indication, it was clearly written for Psalm 103, as it has the same verse form structure. The analogous ‘Wel op mijn harp’ was to be sung: ‘to 103. Psa.’ The sad ‘Wel op myn luth’ is thus written on this psalm in a major key, while one would expect a minor key. The text appears in the liber amicorum of Aefgen Claesdochter van Giblant, who in 1598-1601 put together a handsome anthology with songs in various languages, transcribed by Willem Kuiper.
The lover in the song is so consumed by his love for an accomplished woman that he cannot endure her avoiding him and longs for death. As a phoenix is seared by the sun, he too wishes to be burned ‘before the eyes of my princess’.
40. Allez où le sort vous conduit // Go where fortune leads you
The melody is a courante by Pierre Chabanceau de la Barre, very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries and often referred to simply as ‘Courante la Bare’. The song ‘Helaas mijn zuchten zijn om niet’ written to this melody itself became so well known that it was used to indicate the tune for songs like this one by G[eraerd] v[an] W[olschaten], a rhetorician from Antwerp.
The two lovers here are familiar characters from the Italian epic La Gerusalemme liberata by Torquato Tasso, she – Armida, a sorceress, and he – her lover Rinaldo, a knight. He has scandalously deserted her having indulged ‘his sexual lusts’. Armida feels like murdering him. Happily, Cupid and Venus bring the couple back together again.