We Gather Together / Now Thank We All Our God

This arrangement for trombone, flute, and piano brings together two hymn tunes that are especially popular at the American holiday of Thanksgiving, but appropriate at any time of year.

“We gather together” are the opening words to a poem written by the Dutch poet and composer Adrianus Valerius in 1597 to celebrate the Dutch victory in a long-standing dispute with Spain. For decades, the Spanish had occupied various towns in the Low Countries, and by order of the Catholic King Philip II of Spain, Dutch Protestants were forbidden to gather together publicly for worship. Valerius set his text, “Wilt heden nu treden,” to a popular 16th-century Dutch folk song, “Ey, wilder den wilt,” and the combined text and tune were later published in Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck (“Netherlands’ Remembered Sounds”) in 1626. In 1878, the Austrian composer/conductor Edward Kremser arranged six Dutch folk songs for men’s voices, including “Prayer of Thanksgiving: Old Dutch Melody,” with texts in German. In 1894, Theodore Baker (editor of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians) translated the German text of “Prayer of Thanksgiving” into the familiar English version, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,” that is sung today.

“Now Thank We All Our God” is Catherine Winkworth’s (1827-1878) translation of the German “Nun Danket Alle Gott,” written by Lutheran clergyman and hymn-writer Martin Rinckart (1586-1649). Rinckart’s text, based on a passage from Ecclesiasticus, was set to a chorale tune by Johann Cruger (1598-1662) in his 1647 collection, Praxis pietatis melica (The Practice of Piety in Song), a hymnal for use in public worship and private devotions. Like “We Gather Together,” it is strongly associated the Thanksgiving holiday and other services of thanksgiving.

Full score, trombone, flute, piano parts — $5.99