August 10, 2020 10 min read

Welsh Songs Old and New

Selecting 10 beautiful Welsh songs is nearly an impossible task. So with trepidation, here is a list of Welsh songs with lyrics which includes famous 'old' songs together with some 'newer' ones. One in particular, Hymns and Arias, is a very popular Welsh rugby song and is heard at every international rugby match.

My list starts with our National Anthem and finishes with two of the most famous Welsh songs ever composed, Calon Lan and Myfanwy. It also include songs by Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Dafydd Iwan, Max Boyce and Tom Jones. Here are the full lyrics with English translations and meanings where necessary.

 Number Title Composer
     
1 Hen Wald fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers) Evan and James James
2 Hymns and Arias Max Boyce
3 Ar Lan y Mor - Traditional Folk Song Unknown
4 Yma o Hyd Dafydd Iwan
5 Cwm Rhondda John Hughes
6 Thousand Trees Stereophonics
7 Design for Life Manic Street Preachers
8 Green Green Grass of Home Tom Jones
9 Calon Lan Daniel James and John Hughes
 10 Myfanwy Joseph Parry

 

1. Hen Wlad fy Nahdau,

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,
Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.

Cytgan/Chorus:
Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r heniaith barhau

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd;
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd,
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si,
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

This land of my fathers is dear to me
Land of poets and singers, and people of stature
Her brave warriors, fine patriots
Shed their blood for freedom

Chorus:
Land! Land! I am true to my land!
As long as the sea serves as a wall
For this pure, dear land
May the language endure for ever.

Old land of the mountains, paradise of the poets,
Every valley, every cliff a beauty guards;
Through love of my country, enchanting voices will be Her streams and rivers to me.
Though the enemy have trampled my country underfoot,
The old language of the Welsh knows no retreat,
The spirit is not hindered by the treacherous hand
Nor silenced the sweet harp of my land.

2. Hymns and Arias

We paid our weekly shilling for that January trip:
A long weekend in London, aye, without a bit of kip.
There's a seat reserved for beer by the boys from Abercarn:
There's beer, pontoon, crisps and fags and a croakin 'Calon Lan'. 

And we were singing hymns and arias,
'Land of my Fathers', 'Ar hyd y nos'.

 Into Paddington we did roll with an empty crate of ale.
Will had lost at cards and now his Western Mail's for sale.
But Will is very happy though his money all has gone:
He swapped five photos of his wife for one of Barry John. 

And we were....................

We got to Twickers early and were jostled in the crowd;
Planted leeks and dragons, looked for toilets all around.

So many there we couldn't budge -twisted legs and pale:
I'm ashamed we used a bottle that once held bitter ale. 

And we were singing hymns and arias,
'Land of my Fathers', 'Ar hyd y nos'. 

Wales defeated England in a fast and open game.
We sang 'Cwm Rhondda' and 'Delilah',
damn, they sounded both the same.
We sympathised with an Englishman
whose team was doomed to fail
So we gave him that old bottle, that once held bitter ale! 

He started singing hymns and arias,
'Land of my Fathers', 'Ar hyd y nos'. 

So it's down to Soho for the night,
to the girls with the shiny beads;
To the funny men with lipstick on,
with evil minds and deeds.
One said to Will from a doorway dark,
damn, she didn't have much on.
But Will knew what she wanted,
aye...his photo of Barry John! 

'Cos she was singing hymns and arias,
'Land of my Fathers', 'Ar hyd y nos'.

3. Ar Lan y Mor 

 Ar lan y môr mae rhosys chochion
Ar lan y môr mae lilis gwynion
Ar lan y môr mae 'nghariad inne
Yn cysgu'r nos a choddi'r bore.

Ar lan y môr mae carreg wastad
Lle bum yn siarad gair âm cariad
Oddeutu hon fe dyf y lili
Ac ambell sbrigyn o rosmari.

Llawn yw'r môr o swnd a chegryn
Llawn yw'r wy o wyn a melyn
Llawn yw'r coed o ddail a blode
Llawn o gariad merch wyf inne.

English

Beside the sea there are red roses
Beside the sea there're lovely lillies
Beside the sea my sweetheart lives
Asleep at night & awake at morning.

Cold is the frost & cold the snowfall
Cold the house without fire in winter
Cold is the church without a vicar
Cold am I without my lover.

Wonder's the home & yonder the building
Where I've spent many a happy evening
In the loft there above the kitchen
With the girl with the yellow ribbon.

I've a cow with two horns of silver
I've a cow 'milks herself on her own
I've a cow that fills the pails up
Just like the sea which fills the seashore.

4. Yma o Hyd

Dwyt ti'm yn cofio Macsen,
Does neb yn ei nabod o;
Mae mil a chwe chant o flynyddoedd
Yn amser rhy hir i'r cof;
Pan aeth Magnus Maximus o Gymru
Yn y flwyddyn tri-chant-wyth-tri,
A'n gadael yn genedl gyfan
A heddiw: wele ni!

Ry'n ni yma o hyd,
Ry'n ni yma o hyd,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth
Ry'n ni yma o hyd.
Ry'n ni yma o hyd,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth,
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth
Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth
Ry'n ni yma o hyd.

Chwythed y gwynt o'r Dwyrain,
Rhued y storm o'r môr,
Hollted y mellt yr wybren
A gwaedded y daran encôr,
Llifed dagrau'r gwangalon
A llyfed y taeog y llawr
Er dued yw'r fagddu o'n cwmpas
Ry'n ni'n barod am doriad y wawr!

Cofiwn i Facsen Wledig
Adael ein gwlad yn un darn
A bloeddiwn gerbron y gwledydd
'Mi fyddwn yma tan Ddydd y Farn!'
Er gwaetha pob Dic Sion Dafydd,
Er gwaetha 'rhen Fagi a'i chriw
Byddwn yma hyd ddiwedd amser
A bydd yr iaith Gymraeg yn fyw!

5. Cwm Rhondda

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more.
Feed me till I want no more.

Open thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream shall flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer
Be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to thee.
I will ever give to thee.

6. Thousand Trees

Standing at the bus stop with my shopping in my hands
And I'm overhearing elder ladies
As the rumours start to fly
Hear them in the school yard
In the scrap yard
In the chip shop
In the phone box
In the pool hall
At the shoe stall
Every corner turn around

It started with a school girl
Who was running
Running home to her Mam and Dad
Told them she was playing in the change room of the local football side
They said tell us again, she told them again
Tell us the truth, they found it hard to believe
'Cause he taught our Steve, even trained me, taught uncle John who's a father of three

Only takes one tree to make a thousand matches
Only takes one match to burn a thousand trees
Thousand trees

You see it in the classroom
In the swimming pool
Where the match stick men are made
At the scout's hall
At the football
Where the wise we trust are paid

They all honour his name
He did a lot for the game
Got his name knocked up above the sports ground gates
Now they're ripping them down
Stamping the ground
Picture gathers dust in the bar in the lounge

It takes one tree, to make a thousand matches
Only takes one match, to burn a thousand trees
Thousand trees

Wake up, smell the rain
Shake up, he's back to stay
Hasn't been on a holiday
Growing seeds don't believe
Why he's been away

From the school yard
Changing room
Playing fields
Bathroom
Phone box
Office blocks
Corners turn around

They keep doubting the flame
Tossing the blame
Got his name knocked up above the sports ground gates
Now they're ripping them down
Stamping the ground
Picture gathers dust in the bar

And it only takes one tree to make a thousand matches
Only takes one match to burn a thousand trees
Thousand trees
Thousand trees
Thousand trees

7. Design for Life

Libraries gave us power
Then work came and made us free
What price now
For a shallow piece of dignity

I wish I had a bottle
Right here in my dirty face
To wear the scars
To show from where I came

We don't talk about love
We only wanna get drunk
And we are not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end

A design for life
A design for life
A design for life
A design for life

I wish I had a bottle
Right here in my pretty face
To wear the scars
To show from where I came

We don't talk about love
We only wanna get drunk
And we are not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end

A design for life
A design for life
A design for life
A design for life

We don't talk about love
We only wanna get drunk
And we are not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end

A design for life
A design for life
A design for life
A design for life

8. Green Green Grass of Home

The old home town looks the same
As I step down from the train
And there to meet me is my Mama and Papa
Down the road I look and there runs Mary
Hair of gold and lips like cherries

It's good to touch the green, green grass of home
Yes, they'll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home

The old house is still standing tho' the paint is cracked and dry
And there's that old oak tree that I used to play on
Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary
Hair of gold and lips like cherries
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home

Then I awake and look around me
At four grey walls that surround me
And I realize, yes, I was only dreaming
For there's a guard and there's a sad old padre
Arm in arm, we'll walk at daybreak
Again I touch the green, green grass of home

Yes, they'll all come to see me
In the shade of that old oak tree
As they lay me 'neath the green, green grass of home

9. Calon Lan

Nid wy'n gofyn bywyd moethus,
Aur y byd na'i berlau mân:
Gofyn wyf am galon hapus,
Calon onest, calon lân.

Cytgan:
Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na'r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu 
Canu'r dydd a chanu'r nos.

Pe dymunwn olud bydol,
Hedyn buan ganddo sydd;
Golud calon lân, rinweddol,
Yn dwyn bythol elw fydd.

Hwyr a bore fy nymuniad
Gwyd i'r nef ar edyn cân
Ar i Dduw, er mwyn fy Ngheidwad,
Roddi i mi galon lân.

I don't ask for a luxurious life
the world's gold or its fine pearls,
I ask for a happy heart,
an honest heart, a pure heart.

A pure heart full of goodness
Is fairer than the pretty lily,
None but a pure heart can sing,
Sing in the day and sing in the night.

If I wished for worldly wealth,
It would swiftly go to seed;
The riches of a virtuous, pure heart
Will bear eternal profit.

(Chorus)

Evening and morning, my wish
Rising to heaven on the wing of song
For God, for the sake of my Saviour,
To give me a pure heart.

More info on the composers and history of Calon Lan, click here

10. Myfanwy

Paham mae dicter, O Myfanwy,
Yn llenwi'th lygaid duon di?
A'th ruddiau tirion, O Myfanwy,
Heb wrido wrth fy ngweled i?
Pa le mae'r wên oedd ar dy wefus
Fu'n cynnau 'nghariad ffyddlon ffôl?
Pa le mae sain dy eiriau melys,
Fu'n denu'n nghalon ar dy ôl?

Why so the anger, Oh Myfanwy,
That fill your dark eyes
Your gentle cheeks, Oh Myfanwy,
No longer blush beholding me?
Where now the smile upon your lips
That lit my foolish faithful love?
Where now the sound of your sweet words,
That drew my heart to follow you?

Pa beth a wneuthum, O Myfanwy
I haeddu gwg dy ddwyrudd hardd?
Ai chwarae oeddit, O Myfanwy
 thanau euraidd serch dy fardd?
Wyt eiddo im drwy gywir amod
Ai gormod cadw'th air i mi?
Ni cheisiaf fyth mo'th law, Myfanwy,
Heb gael dy galon gyda hi.

What was it that I did, Oh Myfanwy,
To deserve the frown of your beautiful cheeks?
Was it a game for you, Oh Myfanwy,
This poet's golden flame of love?
You belong to me, through true promise,
Too much to keep your word to me?
I'l never seek your hand, Myfanwy,
Unless I have your heart with it.

Myfanwy boed yr holl o'th fywyd
Dan heulwen ddisglair canol dydd.
A boed i rosyn gwridog iechyd
I ddawnsio ganmlwydd ar dy rudd.
Anghofia'r oll o'th addewidion
A wneist i rywun, 'ngeneth ddel,
A dyro'th law, Myfanwy dirion
I ddim ond dweud y gair "Ffarwél".

Myfanwy, may your life entirely be
Beneath the midday sun's bright glow,
And may a blushing rose of health
Dance on your cheek a hundred years.
I forget all your words of promise
You made to someone, my pretty girl
So give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy,
For no more but to say "farewell".

More info on the composers and history of Myfanwy, click here

About FelinFach

Our company, FelinFach Natural Textiles is located in the heart of the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire near to Boncath. We design Welsh blankets and the iconic Welsh Tapestry blankets which are traditionally woven at Welsh mills. We also design and make natural hand dyed yarn, cotton, silk and wool scarves and other handmade products. We are a proud supporter of the Campaign for Wool and Global Welsh.

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Last update 18th September 2020



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