It was a dark time for Protestants in the Netherlands under Catholic Spanish rule. Homes were burned and thousands of people massacred during the siege of Antwerp. For those Protestant believers, to gather together in worship meant risking their lives.
This beautiful song, now sung at Thanksgiving, was first penned during the Protestant Reformation. Imagine the relief those Dutch Christians must have felt when the Twelve Years Truce finally arrived, bringing a temporary end to the Spanish regime. What depth of reprieve, of remembered hardship and loss, must be in the words, “the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.”
Yet even before the truce, these believers trusted that God would see them through. Verse two of the hymn states, “From the beginning the fight we were winning.” Christ’s church would never be defeated, and they knew it. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 KJV) Their conquering king had already won the battle. “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NASB)
As we gather together with family and friends this Thanksgiving, let’s thank God for the freedom we enjoy here in America — and remember our dear brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who face persecution for their faith. Let’s claim God’s “precious and magnificent promises” for them!
We Gather Together
We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing,
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own.