Netherlands National Anthem

History of The Dutch National Anthem

The anthem is rather short, and while most anthems focus on bravery or the unification of the country, the anthem is actually a story through song, talking about the famous William of Orange who revolted against the king of Spain to end tyranny. The name of the anthem is called "Wilhelmus van Nassouew" but is often just referred to as "Wilhelmus" (literally meaning, The William). While many mistakenly call this the anthem of both Holland and the Netherlands (used interchangeably), the proper name for the entire country is the Netherlands or even the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The song is quite old, dating back to about the mid-16th century, with most agreeing upon the date of 1572. It was a popular part of the Dutch tradition that commemorated the famous Dutch revolt but was not actually made the official anthem of the country until 1932. Fun fact: this makes it the oldest national anthem that has been recognized in the world.

What is the Anthem About?

William of Orange was a landholder in the Spanish Empire. He is often cited as the father of the Kingdom of the Netherland for leading the Dutch revolt against the Spanish King in the mid-16th century. It tells the tale of his own exploits, mainly the internal struggle of wanting to be both loyal to the king, but also to his Dutch people. His guilty conscience eventually caught up with him and decided to serve God and his people by allegorically comparing himself to David in the biblical tale against the tyranny of his king, Saul. He hoped that this militant music would inspire his fellow countryfolk to do as David did, and reward themselves with the promised land, just as David was rewarded with the Kingdom of Israel.

Wilhelmus is of significant importance to the history of Europe, as it had created an entirely new genre of a political and military weapons. By combing divine alliteration and referencing the plight and struggle of the common man and elevating them to the status of heroes, just as in the biblical stories, politicians had to throw themselves at the mercy of religious tolerance and support in order to receive favorable support from their people, lest a new revolt breaks out.

Netherlands National Anthem Lyrics

Netherlands National Anthem in Dutch

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.

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.


William of Nassau am I, of German descent;
True to the fatherland, I remain until death.
Prince of Orange am I, free and fearless.
To the King of Spain, I have always given the honor.

You, my God and Lord, are my shield, on You I rely upon.
On You I will build; never leave me,
So that I may remain pious, your servant at all moments,
Dispelling the tyranny that wounds my heart.

Netherlands National Anthem