During a family gathering in late 2022, my cousin brought books of old family photos. My aunt, aged 81, and I had fun going through them trying to identify everyone and everyplace. My mother would have known more but she passed away 4 years ago at age 89. Nevertheless, we were quite successful except for the very early 1900’s. It was lots of fun with great memories and family history.
In the stack of photo albums, was a dark brown, hard cover book of music, called “Nederlandsch Volksliederenboek” (i.e. a book of Dutch folk songs) from 1916. It has writing in it on various songs. I picked a child’s song at random, Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas; pronounce the “aa” as “ah” in Englsih) and showed it to my aunt. She read the words and then immediately sang it. Wow!
My aunt grew up in the Netherlands and emigrated to Canada when she was 18. My parents emigrated to Canada 2 years earlier when they were about 29 but I was only 3. I know a few Dutch folk songs but not too many (this one sounded vaguely familiar).
Here’s the suspected history of the book. It was in my uncle’s possession but it is much older than he is. It may have been my grandfather’s who was 10 years old when this book was published. Most likely, it was my great-grandfather’s book and, since he was a professional singer (operatic bass), he likely used this book to teach his students or it was a gift. The handwriting in it is likely his.
I looked online for this book and discovered that it was in continuous print from 1896 to at least 1925 (there is one version dated 1940). You can still buy second-hand copies of it at a reasonable cost.
So I decided to try to arrange a few of them and, of course, I’m starting with this one. By the way, Saint Nicholas day in the Netherlands is December 6. I do recall putting out my wooden shoe (yes, I had a pair) and getting an orange and chocolate from Saint Nicholas. If you were bad, Black Peter, his assistant, would leave you a lump of coal instead. I guess getting the belt was a much older corporal punishment that is now outdated.
I’ve provided a rough English translation. Some phrases just don’t translate well. If anyone has better wording, I’d be grateful. I’m also putting together a Dutch pronunciation guide for English speakers, first created by my mother (e.g. koek, or cake, is pronounced as kuk). I speak Dutch with an English accent so I need this too.
To download, save each image individually (the images are full sized pages). If this fails, please contact me and I will send you the PDF file.