Listen to this song, performed by Jeroen Zijlstra
View this melody in musical notation
The song 'O Holland schoon gij leeft in vrede / Met eenendertig steden' ('Oh beautiful Holland, thou liv'st in peace / With thirty-one cities') was first printed in songbooks from the middle of the seventeenth century, without mention of author or composer. The song itself is absent from the collection, but is referred to as the melody for many other songs.
One of these is the eighteenth-century song 'Van de vier gasten' ('About the four guests'). This song is about four men on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On the way there, they encounter the devil, who has taken the form of two tigers. One of the four men turns out not to have been to confession for a long time. The four of them pray with fervour, upon which the tigers disappear. They have supper in Jerusalem and receive mercy. One of them dies on the way back, after which several miracles occur.
The wondrous adventures of these four guests were so popular that various new songs were written to this song's melody. It was recorded in 1967 from oral tradition for the radio programme 'Onder de Groene Linde', hosted by Ate Doornbosch.