Dutch MPs want immigrants to learn national anthem

2nd December 2009, Comments 0 comments

A majority of MPs want immigrants following the compulsory integration course to learn at least part of the Dutch national anthem.

The Hague – A majority of MPs voted Tuesday for the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus, to be taught as part of the compulsory integration course for immigrants to the Netherlands, reported Trouw.  

The motion, tabled by SGP MP Cees van der Staaij, had asked the Dutch integration minister to include the Dutch national anthem as one of the final objectives of the integration test.

The proposal was well-received by Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan who added while immigrants do not have to know all 15 verses of the national anthem, it is important that they know part of it.

Van der Laan’s view is supported by most MPs.

“Most native Dutch won’t know all 15 verses, “admitted van der Staaij.
The move was opposed by the democrat party D66 who described it as a forced attempt to forge a Dutch identity.

"There are multiple identities, old and new. We want to seek connections to new Dutch people via core values such as democracy, justice, civil rights and freedom. We see our identity as European. We don't need the Wilhelmus to bind society together," said a spokesperson for D66.

What expats feel
The news has prompted a flurry of mixed responses among expats living in the Netherlands.

Dian Irawati, an expat who has lived in the Netherlands for over five years and have followed an integration course was unfazed by the announcement.

“I don't understand the fuss about making it compulsory. During my integration course, Wilhelmus was one of the materials that we learnt. I remembered thinking it was weird that "den Koning van Hispanje heb ik altijd geëerd" (The king of Spain, I have always honoured) was mentioned in the anthem).

“Since the intention of integration course is to prepare a new immigrant to life in the Netherlands and also those who would want to be a Dutch citizen, then why not?”

The 31-year-old from Indonesia said a quiz on Wilhelmus lyrics may even be better than some “silly questions on ‘vague’ Dutch society values” as it is based on history and facts.

Student Maggie Hulsebos who was born to a Dutch father and a Swazi mother agreed that it is a fair request.

“If people want to be a part of the Netherlands, learning the national anthem is acceptable. The national anthem is a part of a country’s history and should be taught to new immigrants looking to settle here, even though it will just be general knowledge that won't be used later on.”

Expressing dismay at the new regulation is Malaysian expat Denise Chua -van de Hoek.

“I think this is just one of the many ways the Dutch government is "welcoming" foreigners to this country. I do not understand why they are making the integration course increasing more rigid. ”

Chua –van de Hoek went on to question what the new regulation spells for native Dutch who do not know the national anthem: “I am sure some native Dutch do not know their national anthem that well. Does that mean they have to go through the integration course too?”

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The Dutch national anthem
The 16th-century song, with its often overtly Christian lyrics, described William of Orange and his fight for Dutch independence from Spain. Read on for the English translation and national anthem.

English translation of Dutch national anthem
William of Nassau
am I of German[12] blood.
Loyal to the fatherland
I will remain until I die.
A prince of Orange,
I am, free and fearless.
The king of Spain
I have always honoured.

To live in fear of God
I have always attempted.
Because of this I was ousted
bereft of my land and my people.
But God will reign me
like a good instrument.
So that I may return
in my reign.

Hold on my subjects,
who are honest by nature.
God will not abandon you
even though you now are in despair.
He who tries to live piously,
must pray to God day and night,
that He will give me the strength
that I may relieve you.

My body or wealth altogether
I did not spare to help you.
My noble brothers
have shown you this as well:
Count Adolf died
in Frisia during the battle
His soul in eternal life
awaits the final judgement.

Born nobly and highly,
of imperial descent,
Chosen a prince of the empire,
Like a honest Christian,
for the honoured word of God,
I have without fear
like a fearless hero,
ventured my own noble blood.

My shield and reliance
are you, o God my Lord.
It is you on whom I want to rely,
never leave me again.
[Grant] that I may remain brave,
your servant for always,
and [may] defeat the tyranny,
which pierces my heart

From all those that burden me
and are my pursuers,
my God, do save
your loyal servant.
That they may not surprise me
with their wicked plans
nor wash their hands
in my innocent blood.

Like David, who was forced to flee
from Saul, the tyrant.
I had to sigh,  
as did many other nobles.
But God raised him,
relieving him of despair,
and gave him a kingdom
very great in Israel.

After this sourness I will receive
from God my Lord the sweetness
For that longs so much
my noble mind
which is that I may die
with honour in the fields,
and gain an eternal realm
as a faithful hero.

Nothing makes me pity so much
in my adversity,
then that are seen to be impoverishing
the good lands of the King
That you are molested by the Spaniards,
O Noble Netherlands sweet,
when I think of that,
my noble heart bleeds.

Seated [on horseback] like a prince,
with my armed forces,
Defied by the tyrant,
I awaited the battle.
Those dug in at Maastricht
were afraid of my might
People saw my horsemen ride
bravely through the fields.

By a Christian mood was driven
My princely heart
Steadfast remained
my heart in adversity
To the Lord I prayed,
from the bottom of my heart,
that He may save my cause,
and proclaim my innocence.

Farewell, my poor sheep,
who are in deep despair.
Your shepherd will not sleep,
even though you are now dispersed.
Turn to God,
accept his curing word.
Live as a good Christian;
soon, it will be finished here .

I want to confess to God,
and to his great power
that I have never
despised the King.
except that to God the Lord,
the highest Majesty
I've been obedient
in justice.

Dutch national anthem
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.

In Godes vrees te leven
heb ik altijd betracht,
daarom ben ik verdreven,
om land, om luid gebracht.
Maar God zal mij regeren
als een goed instrument,
dat ik zal wederkeren
in mijnen regiment.

Lijdt u, mijn onderzaten
die oprecht zijt van aard,
God zal u niet verlaten,
al zijt gij nu bezwaard.
Die vroom begeert te leven,
bidt God nacht ende dag,
dat Hij mij kracht zal geven,
dat ik u helpen mag.

Lijf en goed al te samen
heb ik u niet verschoond,
mijn broeders hoog van namen
hebben 't u ook vertoond:
Graaf Adolf is gebleven
in Friesland in den slag,
zijn ziel in 't eeuwig leven
verwacht den jongsten dag.

Edel en hooggeboren,
van keizerlijken stam,
een vorst des rijks verkoren,
als een vroom christenman,
voor Godes woord geprezen,
heb ik, vrij onversaagd,
als een held zonder vreden
mijn edel bloed gewaagd.

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 hart doorwondt.

Van al die mij bezwaren
en mijn vervolgers zijn,
mijn God, wil doch bewaren
den trouwen dienaar dijn,
dat zij mij niet verassen
in hunnen bozen moed,
hun handen niet en wassen
in mijn onschuldig bloed.

Als David moeste vluchten
voor Sauel den tiran,
zo heb ik moeten zuchten
als menig edelman.
Maar God heeft hem verheven,
verlost uit alder nood,
een koninkrijk gegeven
in Israël zeer groot.

Na 't zuur zal ik ontvangen
van God mijn Heer dat zoet,
daarna zo doet verlangen
mijn vorstelijk gemoed:
dat is, dat ik mag sterven
met eren in dat veld,
een eeuwig rijk verwerven
als een getrouwen held.

Niet doet mij meer erbarmen
in mijnen wederspoed
dan dat men ziet verarmen
des Konings landen goed.
Dat u de Spanjaards krenken,
o edel Neerland zoet,
als ik daaraan gedenke,
mijn edel hart dat bloedt.

Als een prins opgezeten
met mijner heires-kracht,
van den tiran vermeten
heb ik den slag verwacht,
die, bij Maastricht begraven,
bevreesde mijn geweld;
mijn ruiters zag men draven
zeer moedig door dat veld.

Zo het den wil des Heren
op dien tijd had geweest,
had ik geern willen keren
van u dit zwaar tempeest.
Maar de Heer van hierboven,
die alle ding regeert,
die men altijd moet loven,
en heeft het niet begeerd.

Zeer christlijk was gedreven
mijn prinselijk gemoed,
standvastig is gebleven
mijn hart in tegenspoed.
Den Heer heb ik gebeden
uit mijnes harten grond,
dat Hij mijn zaak wil redden,
mijn onschuld maken kond.

Oorlof, mijn arme schapen
die zijt in groten nood,
uw herder zal niet slapen,
al zijt gij nu verstrooid.
Tot God wilt u begeven,
zijn heilzaam woord neemt aan,
als vrome christen leven,-
't zal hier haast zijn gedaan.

Voor God wil ik belijden
en zijner groten macht,
dat ik tot genen tijden
den Koning heb veracht,
dan dat ik God den Heere,
der hoogsten Majesteit,
heb moeten obediëren
in der gerechtigheid

Expatica / Radio Netherlands

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