Adrianus (Adriaen) Valerius, also known as Adriaen Valerius, (c. 1575-1625) was a Dutch poet and composer, known mostly for his poems dealing with peasant and burgher life and those dealing with the Dutch War of Independence, assembled in his great work Nederlandtsche gedenck-clanck. A poet of not unconsiderable talent, Valerius worked on the great Zeelander compendium Zeeusche Nachtegael with a number of other poet-colleagues. The work would be published in 1623. His primary individual opus, on the other hand, is the collection of folk poems and melodies on the Dutch Wars (1555-1625) Nederlandtsche gedenck-clanck, which he had collected and edited for thirty years until his death in 1625. The posthumous collection, published by his son François in 1631, gained instant popularity. The work, steeped in Protestant moralization and chiliastic attitudes, was both anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish and was studied in Zeeland both at home and Church as part of familial religious edification. The collection contained 76 songs, and unusually for the time the songs were printed in musical notation (many similar collections named well-known tunes to which a printed text should be sung). Musical accompaniments were to be done by four-stringed citterns and seven-stringed lutes; the accompaniments were printed in tablature.
Valerius' historical significance lies neither in his poetry's artistic expression, which was stunted and often bare, nor in the originality of his work, which is often viewed as derivative. Rather, his compendium served as a mirror on his time and mores, while the strong sense of Dutch nation and identity that permeate this collection would serve to make his work a popular favorite in the Netherlands in times of trouble (for example, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War).
The German translation of his most familiar song Wilt Heden Nu Treden (known in English as We Gather Together): Wir treten zum Beten or Altniederländisches Dankgebet (Old Dutch Thanksgiving Prayer), became a potent symbol of the Throne and Altar-alliance of German civil religion until 1918.
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