I am fascinated by my family story.
One of the best trips I have ever taken is when almost my whole family traveled to The Netherlands, my Dad and Mom’s birthplace. It was such an amazing experience to spend time there, hearing the stories, visiting their neighborhoods, and being together in those spaces. It was not the first time for my siblings and me, but experiencing it with my nieces and nephews was such a gift.
Learning about our family history’s richness has invited us to embrace many different aspects of our heritage. We likely would not have found many meaningful traditions if our parents had not committed to sharing their stories.
This past Christmas, in the odd COVID style celebration of our Christmas worship via Zoom, I was deeply impacted by one of those generation-to-generation moments. I remember Ere Zij God from when I was very young. I always knew it was powerful, even if I did not fully understand why. I learned to sing it, but I am pretty sure that no Dutch person would understand my pronunciation. To this day, this song carries a very worshipful feel to me.
I want to share the video with you of my friend Pete singing Ere Zij God. Even if you don’t understand the words, I think you will feel the worship! I have included a bit of a description below:
Glory to God” is a Christmas carol popular among American and Canadian Reformed churches with Dutch roots. It is translated from the Dutch “Ere Zij God” and is one of the most beloved carols sung in Protestant churches in the Netherlands.
The lyrics are inspired by the words that the angels sang when the birth of Christ was announced to shepherds in Luke 2:14. The song first appeared in print in 1857 in the hymnal Het nachtegaaltje (The little nightingale), compiled and written by lyricist Isaac Bikkers (1833-1903).
The hymn is thus one of a series drawn on that text, including Angels We Have Heard on High, Angels from the Realms of Glory, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, and, by far the most ancient, the Greater Doxology or Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
The music is attributed to F.A. Schultz, of whom little is known except for others that a Franz Albert Schultz wrote a songbook while working at a college in Königsberg in 1731. No copies of this book are extant. The music is grandiose in style, in the A-B-A form, with an extended, flowing double-Amen ending.
Amen and Amen…Blessed Be His Name!