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Songs from the Dutch Golden Age

with music and English translation


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Songs from the Dutch Golden Age (1588-1672).

The 17th century historic songs on this page were not in use as folk songs (sung by the common people), but sung during recitals, theater plays and musical evenings.

They are all written by the most famous writers of the 17th century (the Dutch Golden Age): Hooft, Bredero, Huygens and Vondel.

Although the songs were continuously in print in their own publications, they weren't included in the 19th and 20th century folk songs anthologies. Songs like these are categorised 'cultural songs' or 'art songs'.




  'Galathea siet den dach' (1615)
 by P.C. Hooft



"Galathea, see the day begins,
Galathea, see the day begins."
"No, my love, await and linger
it is the starlight,
no, my love, await and linger
it is the moon."


        "Galathea siet den dach comt aen.
        Galathea siet den dach comt aen."
        "Neen mijn lief wilt noch wat marren
        T sijn de starren
        Neen mijn lief wilt noch wat marren
        't is de maen."


"Galathea, it is not the moon,
Galathea, it is not the moon."
"It's not even chiming one yet
how can the dawn break?
It's not even one o'clock
the day could not break."


        "Galathea 't is geen maneschijn.
        Galathea 't is geen maneschijn."
        "Hoe 't is noch geen een geslagen
        Wat soud 't dagen?
        Hoe? 't is noch geen een,
        't en can den dach niet sijn."


"Galathé, look careful to the sky,
Galathé, look careful to the sky."
"Oh alas, I see the daybreak
to our pity,
Oh alas, I see the day
how fast the time flies.


        "Galathea aenschout den hemel wel.
        Galathea aenschout den hemel wel."
        "Las! ick sie den dagerade
        T' onser schade
        Las! ick sie den daegeraedt
        de tijt is snel.


Why can the night not last until nightfall,
why can the night not last until nightfall?
Then the two of us would be not
separated
stayed together happy
till the day we died.


        Waarom duert de nacht niet tot t'avont niet?
        Waarom duert de nacht niet tot t'avont niet?
        Dat wij bleven met ons beyen
        Sonder scheyen
        Bleven vrolyck tot dat ons
        de doot verriedt.


Now goodbye my love, be safe and sound
now goodbye my love, be safe and sound."
"Give me please a final kiss,
my life, my darling!
Grant me just another kiss
from your happy lips."


        Nu adieu mijn troost en blijft gesont.
        Nu adieu mijn troost en blijft gesont."
        "Wilt mij noch een kusken geven
        Och mijn leven!
        Jont mij nog een kusken
        van u blije mont."


"Light of my life, please come again tonight
light of my life, please come again tonight."
"Sadly if your mother heard us
she would be angry.
Even if she's angry I will
come anyway."


        "Och mijn leven coomdij t'avont weer?
        Och mijn leven coomdij t'avont weer?"
        "Las u moeder mocht het hooren
        En haer stooren
        Maer al sou s'haer stooren ick coom
        even seer."


"Oh my heart, how can I let you go,
oh my heart, how can I let you go?"
"It's a pity but the day ends
hugging and cuddling.
Thank you for your gentle kisses
and everything."


        "Och mijn hart hoe raeck ick van u hals?
        Och mijn hart hoe raeck ick van u hals?"
        "Las den dach en wil niet lijen
        T langer vrijen,
        Danck hebt van u sachte kuskens
        en van als."



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          ©  copyright translations


  Lyrics: Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft.
In: Apollo of ghesangh der musen (1615).
Melody: the tune of 'Willen dan de koeytjens niet' or: 'Gister avont spade'.

Commentary: P.C. Hooft (1581-1647) was the son of the mayor of Amsterdam and bailiff of Muiden himself. He founded a literary society in his Muiden Castle (the so called Muiderkring). Hooft became famous for his plays, his sonnets and his historic studies and is still considered to be one of the most important Dutch writers.

Content: Daybreak song, love song. Dialogue between Galathea and her lover. They don't want to be separated by the daybreak. Why can't the night last till the following evening? Then they could be together till death. The lover promises to return the next night - even if her mother would notice it and get angry. Thank you for all your sweet kisses.

Recording: Camerata Trajectina is a music ensemble from Utrecht, specialised in Dutch music from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century.

CD: Music from the Muiden Circle / Muziek uit de Muiderkring (1994). This cd is still available in their webshop (camerata-trajectina.nl).

dutch flag the netherlands holland   Lyrics 'Galathea siet den dach comt aen' on Dutch website: Nederlandse volksliedjes G.
 







  'Goddinne die de naam' (1616)
 by G.A. Bredero



My goddess you're bearing the name of this isle rich in ships
without any magic you touch the heavens and the earth
but only with your face, your Godly artfulness
you can move every man, your favour he will yearn.


        Goddinne die de naam van 't schip-rijck Eylant voert,
        Die met geen Tooverkracht Hemel en aart beroert,
        Maar die met u ghesicht en Goddelijcke kunst
        De grootste man beweegt doet snacken na u gunst.


Your power is splendid and great, I recognise the height
I value and appreciate the highness of your soul
the summit of all praise, you're shining for the world
so that even the sun closes his eyes ashamed.


        De grootheyt van u macht ick noyt soo hooch en hiel,
        Als ick de hoocheyt doe van u verheven ziel,
        Die op den top des Lofs ten pronck des werelts staat,
        Sulcx dat de Zon beschaamt syn ooghen neder slaat.


So early before the first dew, at daybreak during dawn
he's ready to start a new day, he rises and he shines
you lie still in your bed, the household still asleep
the sun, the braggart, enters through the window glass.


        Smorgens voor dauw voor dach, en in den dagheraat,
        Wanneer hy opghetoyt uyt syn slaepkamer gaet,
        Als ghy noch legt en slaapt met al u Huysghesin,
        Dan komt den brallert aen door glasen Vensters in.


He peeps around, he looks again and notices your grace
your pure skin, so silvery white, he gilds it with his shine
you feel the shelter of his beams so sweet and soft
show him all he holds dear and worthy in this earth.


        Hy kyckt, hy wederkyckt en siet u schoonheyt door,
        U Silverblancke vel vergult hy met syn gloor;
        Ghy voelt de luwte van syn straalen soet en sacht
        En toont hem al het t'gunt hy meest op Aarden acht.


The sun he does all that he wants and all that gives him joy
the old rake then moves on again, he sees so many girls
a lover seldom sees the bedroom of his love
but our sun lies down with every girl he wants.


        Hij doet al wat hy wil en wat hem best behaaght;
        Dan gaat den snoepert deur; hy schent soo menich Maagt,
        Waer dat die Vrouwe Man maer steelwys eens insluypt,
        Hy vint gheen Vrouwtje, die hy niet in slaap bekruypt.


The last time he visited you, my Goddess, he looked down
you were lying so tight asleep, in peace and all carefree
he stole then from your head, so friendly and so kind
he stole then both your eyes, replaced them both with suns.


        De leste reys, Goddin, als hy u wel besach,
        Doen ghy in diepe rust en onbekommert lach,
        Doen stal hy uyt u Hooft, op 't aardichst dat hy kon,
        U ooghen en hy liet voor elcken Ooch een Son.


Because all of this it is why, my Goddess, everyone
can witness this noble grandeur, all these delicacies
your face is radiant, it's vital and so fast
and you light up my soul completely on inside.


        Soo komet by, Goddin, dat ick en alle lien,
        Die dese Majesteyt vol Heerlijckheden sien,
        Door 't blincken van u snel en weesselijck ghesicht,
        Waar met dat ghy myn siel inwendich noch verlicht.


My deepest wish and happiness, my reason I rejoice
is that you would look at me from the kindness of your heart
if you, my grace, would be so friendly and so kind
I wouldn't change that for anything in the world.


        Dit is myn hooghste vreucht, daer ick my in verbly,
        Dat ghy u ooghjens slaet uyt goetheyt eens op my;
        Als u ghenade my eens vriendelijck aensiet,
        Ick ruylden dat gheluck om al de Werelt niet.



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          ©  copyright translations


  Lyrics: Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Bredero.
In: Boertigh, Amoureus en Aendachtigh Groot Liedt-boek (1622).
Melody: 'Als ick uyt wandelen gae'.

Commentary: Gerbrand Bredero (1585-1618) was a playwright from Amsterdam. He was famous for his comedies, farces and songs (mostly love songs and droll songs). He was part of the literary society 'Muiderkring' in Hooft's Muiden Castle. He died unexpectedly, when he was only 33 years old.

Background: This love song (1616) was written for Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher (1594-1649). Her middle name, under which she became widely known ('Tesselschade') means: 'Texel damage', for she was born in the night that her father lost 44 fully loaded ships near the isle of Texel. She and her two sisters could sing and play music very well; and her father was well befriended with authors like Hooft, Bredero and Vondel.

Content: In this song Bredero says that Tesselschade is the goddess of the isle of Texel. The sun pales compared to her character. The sun caresses her with his beams and he replaced her eyes with two suns. If those suns would look friendly at him, he wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

In fact Tesselschade never returned Bredero's affection, she married an officer in 1623. Bredero himself was already deceased several years by then.

Recording: Camerata Trajectina is a music ensemble from Utrecht, specialised in Dutch music from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century.

CD: Music from the Muiden Circle / Muziek uit de Muiderkring (1994). This cd is still available in their webshop (camerata-trajectina.nl).
 







  ''T kan mijn Schip' (1627)
 by C. Huygens



My ship no longer can be wrecked
my ship no longer can be wrecked
'cause my star is shining in the East
the morning starlight.
Helmsman, sail right to the east
the shores are not far away now.
Helmsman, sail right to the east
the shores are not far away now.


        'T kan mijn Schip niet qualik gaen,
        'T kan mijn Schip niet qualik gaen,
        'Ksie mijn Sterr in't Oosten staen,
        Mijn Morgensterre;
        Stiermann houw vrij Oostwaerd aen,
        Het land en is niet verre.


In the East where the sun wakes up
where Aurora gathers all her pearls
the bright East heaven.
I gazed there in vain such a long time
now promise me your comfort.


        'T Oosten daer de Sonn ontslaept,
        Daer Aurora haer perlen raept,
        Het helder Oosten,
        Hebb ick 't lang vergeefs begaept
        Belooft mij nu te troosten.


My face used to be wet of tears
it has never been so dry as this
both taps are closed now.
All that's left are drops like dew on grass
so small compared to the ocean.


        All mijn aensicht was een plass,
        Nu is 't drooger dan 't oyt was,
        Met bey' sijn' kranen.
        Wat zijn droppelen van gras
        Bij sulcken Zee van tranen?


This whole sea was dried by my Star
and she only watches me from far
far from the East sky.
Shortly she will reach the midday peak
imagine how she will roast me.


        Sulcken Zee heeft Sterr gedroogt,
        En mij maer van verr beooght,
        Verr uyt den Oosten,
        Komt sij eens ter Middagh-hooght
        Denckt hoese mij sal roosten.


My strong Star, remain far away
because your compassion feels too strong
I can't endure it.
Suppose that the one who gave me life
would cut my lifetime short soon.


        Stercke Sterr, staet verder af,
        Uw' medoogen valt te straff,
        'T is niet te lijden
        Dat die mij het leven gaf
        Het leven sou besnijden.


Even if I'd be freed from life
my strong Star is standing by my side
if I would lose life.
Such a shining living light as she
will give new life, I am certain.


        Maer besnijdt mij 'tleven vrij,
        Stercke Sterr staet neven mij,
        Verlies ick 'tleven
        Sulcken levend licht als ghij
        Sal licht niew leven geven.


All my wishes will be like fire
all my wishes will be like fire
when they're lying in your gentle hands
like fire and sorrow.
Bring your fire, Star, merge it with mine
and it will burn all the hotter.
Bring your fire, Star, merge it with mine
and it will burn all the hotter.


        Vier, en meer als menschen-pijn
        Vier, en meer als menschen-pijn
        Sullen all mijn wenschen zijn
        In uwe handen,
        Sterre brengt uw vier bij 'tmijn
        Het sal te heeter branden.
        Sterre brengt uw vier bij 'tmijn
        Het sal te heeter branden.



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          ©  copyright translations


  Lyrics: Constantijn Huygens.
In: Korenbloemen (1658) (date song 1627).
Melody: 'Je remontraij l'autre jour'.

Commentary: Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687) was a diplomat, secretary of the Prince Frederick Henry of Orange (the son of Prince William of Orange, and the brother and successor of Prince Maurits) and a famous writer and composer.

In 1627 he married Suzanna van Baerle, who he called 'Sterre' (star). They got five children, but she died very young, only 38 years old (1637). After that he wrote a famous poem in her honour ('On the death of Sterre'). He lived for 50 more years, until he was 90 years old - but never remarried.

Content: Constantijn Huygens wrote this song for Suzanna after they got engaged (1627). It had taken a long time to win her heart and that has been a difficult and woeful time for him. But now she returns his love and they are engaged to be married. This is the start, the star is shining in the east. How much brighter and warmer she will shine at midday.

Recording: Camerata Trajectina is a music ensemble from Utrecht, specialised in Dutch music from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century.

CD: Music from the Golden Age / Muziek uit de Gouden Eeuw (1992). This cd is still available in their webshop (camerata-trajectina.nl).
 







  'He carried Holland' (1631)
 by J. van den Vondel



He carried Holland all his life-time
in his heart
till he was worn with age and burdened
with much grief.
Why this perjury and why this
blood stained sword?
Now the ravens, crows are feasting
on his goods.


        Hadt hy Hollandt dan ghedragen,
        Onder 't hart,
        Tot sijn afgeleefde dagen,
        Met veel smart,
        Om 't meyneedigh swaert te laven,
        Met sijn bloet,
        En te mesten kray en raven,
        Op sijn goet?


Why was his neck cut on the scaffold
'cause his blood
already withered in his blood veins;
in his goods
no one found the Spanish gold coins
of betrayal
he didn't use bribes to stoke up
people's hate.


        Maer waerom den hals gekorven?
        Want sijn bloet
        Was in d'aders schier verstorven;
        In sijn goet
        Vontmen noyt de Pistoletten
        Van 't verraet,
        Uutghestroyt, om scharp te wetten
        's Vollecks haet.


That avariciousness and cruelty
that have pulled
this vicious grim sword from the scabbard
have calmed down
now they sigh: how can we settle
good and blood?
Ah, remorse will gnaw for ever
at our souls!


        Gierigheyt en wreetheyt beyde,
        Die het swaert
        Grimmigh ruckten uyt der scheyde,
        Nu bedaert,
        Suchten: Wat kan ons vernoegen
        Goet en bloet?
        Och, hoe knaecht een eeuwigh wroegen
        Ons ghemoedt!


It's wishful thinking that the vicars
aid remorse
or that the hypocrite Dort's saints give
salvation.
It's in vain, the Lord comes knocking
with his Word
no one can stop the effect this
murder has.


        Weest te vreen, haelt Predikanten,
        West en Oost;
        Gaet en soeckt by Dortsche santen
        Heyl en troost;
        'T is vergeefs, de Heer koomt kloppen,
        Met sijn Woort,
        Niemandt kan de wellen stoppen
        Van die Moort.


Mirror yourself, watch your reflection
who you are
and fear the worm who bites through the heart
of the judge.
Don't soil yourself with hate towards a
father good
don't accuse the innocent as
state's traitor.


        Spiegelt, spiegelt u dan echter,
        Wie ghy zijt;
        Vreest den worm, die desen rechter
        't Hart afbijt,
        Schent uw' handen aen geen Vaders,
        Dol van haet,
        Scheldt gheen Vroomen voor verraders
        Van den staet.



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          ©  copyright translations


  Lyrics: Joost van den Vondel.
Published on a pamphlet (1631).
Also known under the title: 'For the twenty-four'.
Melody: 'Branle partinice'.

Commentary: Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679) is one of the most famous Dutch poets and playwrights. He mainly wrote tragedies and poems and translated literary works of the antiquity. He was a member of the chamber of rhetoric 'The White Lavender'/'Het Wit Lavendel'.

Background: In 1619 Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619), Land's Advocate and Grand Pensionary of the Dutch Republic, was beheaded in commission of Prince Maurits of Orange, due to religious, financial and military conflicts. (Maurits, a successful Captain General during the Eighty Year's War, was the son of William of Orange, who had been the leader of the Dutch Revolt).

Vondel criticised Maurits' actions and wrote a famous protest poem ('The walking cane of Oldenbarnevelt'/'Het stockske van Oldenbarnevelt'), and texts like above song. He got a fine of 300 guilders for his protest poem. He initially had to publish above song anonymously on a pamphlet, for it would have been too dangerous to sign a critical text like this.

Content: This song expresses anger and explicit, harsh disapproval of the murder of Van Oldenbarnevelt. Why had this excellent man, after so many years of loyal service to the country, to die by the sword? All the accusations have turned out to be false. The 24 judges should feel remorse. But even if they start to feel repentance, God won't forgive them.

Recording: Camerata Trajectina is a music ensemble from Utrecht, specialised in Dutch music from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century.

CD: Baboons and Mud Beggar's / Bavianen en Slijkgeuzen (1995). This cd is still available in their webshop (camerata-trajectina.nl).

See also: Vondel's Christmas song on this website: 'Oh, Christmas night, you're brighter'.
 



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