Caneuon Gwerin

Archwilio ac arddangos caneuon Gwerin o Gymru / Exploring and showcasing folk songs from Wales

Archive for the category “Death and mourning”

The Lass of Swansea Town / Swansea Barracks

Caneuon Cymreig yn Saesneg

Yn 2009 cefais y cyfle i ganu yng Ngwyl Gwerin Bromyard fel rhan o fy ngwobr o ennill y Fred Jordan Memorial Prize yn yr ŵyl blwyddyn yn gynharach. Roedd Paul a Liz Davenport yn perfformio mewn nifer o’r un cyngherddau a fi ac ar ôl un ohonynt cawsom sgwrs am ganeuon Cymreig mewn Saesneg. “Mae’n rhaid bod llawer iawn ohonynt ar gael” meddai Paul ond doeddwn i methu meddwl am un!

Ers cael y sgwrs yma efo’r Davenports dwi wedi bod yn cadw llygad allan am ganeuon Saesneg sydd yn dod o neu wedi eu casglu yng Nghymru ond mae nhw wedi bod yn eithaf anodd i’w darganfod! Mae’r traddodiad canu gwerin yng Ngymru wedi ei gynnal yn rhannol gan yr Eisteddfod ers degawdau felly dydy caneuon Saesneg eu hiaith ddim wedi cael yr un llwyfan a’r rhai Gymraeg. Serch hyn, dwi wedi llwyddo i ddarganfod rhai caneuon Saesneg ar CDs ac mewn archifau. Y cyntaf dwi am addangos yw The Lass of Swansea Town.

Phil Tanner
Tua 10 mlynedd yn ôl cafais CD Phil Tanner, The Gower Nightingale, yn anrheg Nadolig. Roeddwn i arfer gwrando arni yn fy ngwely min nos yng Ngoleg yr Iwerydd i ganslo allan sŵn y pobl roeddwn i’n rhannu ystafell efo! Mae’r CD yn dechrau efo trafodaeth 5 munud a hanner o hyd gan Wynford Vaughan Thomas ynglŷn â bywyd Phil a roeddwn i fel arfer yn cwympo i gysgu cyn i’r canu dechrau!

Pan llwyddais i aros ar ddihun am ddigon hir i wrando ar y caneuon roeddwn i wedi fy siomi briadd. Doedd hwn ddim yn CD o ganeuon slic oedd yn aros mewn tiwn ac efo trefiannu newydd a diddorol fel fy hoff CD ar y pryd – Ffawd gan Julie Murphy a Dylan Fowler. Fel gantores gwerin hyn a mwy aeddfed, dwi rwan yn sylweddoli bod CDs fel un Phil yn ddolen hanfodol i’r gorffennol. Bydd ddim modd i bobl fel Julie a Dylan gwneud gosodiadau newydd, cyffroes a diddorol tasu cyrff fel y BBC ddim wedi recordio pobl fel Phil.

The Lass of Swansea Town / Swansea Barracks
Ar CD The Gower Nightingale mae cân o’r enw ‘Swansea Barracks’. Mae stori y gân yn un gyfarwydd – mae dynes yn aros wrth glan y môr i’w cariad dod adref ac mae dyn yn dod heibio i ddweud wrthi bod ei chariad wedi marw. Mae Mike Waterson hefyd yn canu’r gân ond mae o wedi ychwanegu pennill lle mae’r dyn yn datgelu taw fo yw’r cariad a bod o ddim wedi marw wedi’r cyfan. Yn aml mewn caneuon fel hyn dydy’r merch ddim yn coeli’r dyn tan iddo dangos modrwy neu arwydd arbennig felly mae’r math yma o gân yn cael ei alw’n gân ‘broken token’.

Mae Brian Hicks yn dweud ar ei wefan bod o wedi dod o hyd i hyd yn oed mwy o eiriau lle mae’r dyn y profi taw fo yw’r cariad cywir trwy dangos craith ar ei frest. Dydy’r geiriau hyn ddim yn ffitio’r alaw yn dda iawn felly dwi ddim yn defnyddio nhw. Efallai bod Brian Hicks yn defnyddio alaw amgen.
Mae Phil Tanner yn canu mewn tempo eithaf hwylus ond mae Jon Boden (a dysgodd hi gan Mike Waterson) yn mynd i’r cyfeiriad gwahanol gan ganu hi’n araf a thrist. Mae hwn yn gweddus i lawer o’r cân ond, yn fy marn i, mae geiriau cariadus y corws a’r pennill olaf ychwanegol yn gwneud hi’n gân gobeithiol felly dwi’n hoffi canu hi mewn arddull mwy fel Phil Tanner.

Gwreiddiau
Mae sawl wraidd posib i’r gân yma. Yr un mwyaf amlwg yw bod hi’n gân sydd wedi ei ysgrifennu, canu a chasglu yn ardal Abertawe. Daeth y gân i’r amlwg ar ôl i Phil cael ei a recordio gan y BBC ar 20 Mai, 1949 ym Mhenmaen. Ymddangosodd y recordiad ar Phil Tanner (EFDSS, 1968), A Soldier’s Life for Me (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8; Topic, 1970) a The Gower Nightingale (Veteran, 2003). Cafodd Phil eni a’i magu yn y Gwŷr ac os taw fo ydy’r unig person mae’r gân wedi cael ei gasglu oddi wrth, a gan for y gân wedi ei osod yn Abertawe, gallwn tybio taw gân Cymreig yw hwn. Hefyd, mae Ceri Rhys Matthews yn credu bod Phil wedi cyfansoddi’r alaw ei hun. Os ydy hyn yn wir mae’r gân yn o leisf hanner Cymreig.

Ond dydy pawb ddim yn cytuno efo hwn. Dywedai Peter Kennedy yn nodiadau A Soldier’s Life for Me bod y gân yn fersiwn o’r gân Gwyddelig ‘The Blooming Rose of Antrim’ / ‘The Flower of Corby Mill’. Yn nodiadau The Gower Nightingale mae Roy Palmer yn anghytuno efo hyn. Mae o’n nodi bod argraffwyr arfer creu taflenni o’r enw ‘The Lass of -Shire’ fel bod y cantorion yn gallu ychwanegu enw eu hardal nhw i’r gân.

Cyhoeddwyd John Harkness (Preston) a Birt (Llundain) ‘The Lass of -Town’ efo cyfarwyddion bod hi i’w ganu ar yr alaw Irish Molly O ond dydy Phil Tanner ddim yn canu i’r alaw yma. Mae fy ffrind Laura Smyth yn canu gân o’r enw ‘The Lass of Manchester Town’ efo alaw tebyg ‘The Lass of Swansea Town’ Phil Tanner ac roedd band o’r enw Oak yn canu ‘The Lass of Newcastle Town’ felly mae’r esboniad yma yn dal dŵr. Serch hyn, mae Palmer yn ddatgan yn hyderus “Suggestions that there is an Irish version of this song, as The Blooming Rose of Antrim, have proved unfounded, and Phil Tanner’s recording is apparently unique.”

Ar wefan the Digital Tradition Mirror mae’n dweud bod y geiriau (rhai Brian Hicks, nid Phil Tanner) wedi eu casglu gan y teulu Kenny o Kitchuses, Newfoundland, a hefyd bod Ken Peacock wedi trawsysgrifio hi gan ganu Harry Curtis o Joe Batt’s Arm, Newfoundland, yng Ngorffennaf 1952. Dwedodd Harry bod o wedi dysgu’r gân pan stopiodd ei long cargo yng Ngymru pan oedd o’n gweithio ar y llong.

Ble nesaf
Gallwch clywed fersiynnau o’r gân yn y llefydd canlynol:

Phil Tanner, Phil Tanner, EFDSS, 1968
Phil Tanner, A Soldier’s Life for Me, The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8, Topic, 1970
Phil Tanner,The Gower Nightingale, Veteran, 2003
Roy Harris, The Rambling Sailor, Fellside Recodings Ltd, 1995
Mike Waterson, Mike Waterson, Topic, 1999
The Watersons, Mighty River of Song, Topic, 2004
The Watersons, For Pence and Spicy Ale, Topic, 2006
Jon Boden, A Folk Song A Day: March, Navigator Records, 2011

Yn ol y wefan Digital Tradition Mirror mae hi wedi ei gyhoeddi yn Songs of the Newfoundland Outports gan Amgueddfa Cenedlaethol Canada, 1965.

Os hoffech clywed mwy o ganeuon gwerin ynglŷn ag Abertawe chwiliwch am ‘Swansea Town’ neu ‘I’m Going Home to Swansea Town’ sy’n cael ei ganu i alaw y gân ‘Holy Ground’ ac sydd i’w gael ar:
Max Boyce, The Very Best of Max Boyce, 2005,
The Sherringham Shantymen, All at Sea, Clovelly Recordings Ltd, 2008
The Band of the Prince of Wales’ Division, We’ll Keep a Welcome, Bandleader Records, 2010

Welsh songs in English

In 2009 I was give the opportunity to sing at Bromyard Folk Festival as part of my reward for having won the Fred Jordan Memorial Prize at the festival the previous year. Paul and Liz Davenport were performing in several of the same concerts as me and after one of them we had a chat about English language Welsh songs. Paul said there must be loads of them but I couldn’t think of any!

Since having this chat with the Davenports I’ve been keeping an eye out for songs in English which come from or have been collected in Wales but they’ve been quite hard to find! For decades the folk song tradition in Wales has been partly sustained by the Eisteddfod so English language songs haven’t been given the same platform as the Welsh language ones. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to find a few English songs on CDs and in archives. The first one I want to showcase is The Lass of Swansea Town.

Phil Tanner

About 10 years ago I received Phil Tanner’s CD, The Gower Nightingale, for Christmas. I used to listen to it in bed at night to cancel out the noise of my Atlantic College dorm mates! The CD begins with a 5 and a half minute speech by Wynford Vaughan Williams about Phil’s life so I usually fell asleep before the singing started!

When I managed to stay awake long enough to listen to the songs I was a bit disappointed. This wasn’t a CD of slick songs sung in tune with interesting, new arrangements like you could find on my favourite CD at the time – Ffawd by Julie Murphy and Dylan Fowler. As an older, more mature folk singer, I’ve now realised that CDs like Phil’s are an essential link to the past. It wouldn’t be possible for people like Julie and Dylan to create new, interesting, different arrangements if organisations like the BBC hasn’t recorded people like Phil.

The Lass of Swansea Town / Swansea Barracks

On Phil’s CD there’s a song called Swansea Barracks. The song’s story is familiar – a woman by the sea shore is waiting for her lover to come home and a man comes by to tell her that her love has died. Mike Waterson also sang this song – albeit with the title The Lass of Swansea Town – and he added an extra verse in which the man reveals himself to be the woman’s lover, alive and well. Often in songs like this the woman doesn’t believe the man until he shows her a ring or a special sign so this type of song is called a ‘broken token’ song.

On his website Brian Hicks says that he has found even more lyrics where the man proves that he is the true lover by showing her a scar on his chest. These extra words don’t fit the tune very well so I don’t use them. Perhaps Brian Hicks uses an alternative tune.
Phil Tanner sings the song in an upbeat tempo but Jon Boden (who learnt it from Mike Waterson) goes in the opposite direction singing it slowly and sadly. This is appropriate for a lot of the song but, in my opinion, the loving words of the chorus and the additional last verse make it a hopeful song, so I prefer to sing it in more of a Phil Tanner style.

Origins

This song has several possible origins. The most obvious is that it’s a song written, sung and collected in the Swansea area. The song came to light when Phil was recorded by the BBC on 20 May, 1949 in Penmaen. The recording appeared on Phil Tanner (EFDSS, 1968), A Soldier’s Life for Me (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8; Topic, 1970) a The Gower Nightingale (Veteran, 2003). Phil was born and bred in the Gower and if he’s the only person it’s been collected from, and as the song is set in Swansea, we can presume that it’s a Welsh song. Also, Ceri Rhys Matthews believes that Phil composed the tune himself which would make the song at least half Welsh!

But not everyone agrees. Peter Kennedy said ih the sleeve notes for A Soldier’s Life for Me that the song is a version of the Irish song ‘The Blooming Rose of Antrim’ / ‘The Flower of Corby Mill’. In The Gower Nightingale sleeve notes Roy Palmer refutes this. He notes that publishers used to create sheets called ‘The Lass of -Shire’ so that singers could insert the name of their area into the song.

John Harkness of Preston and Birt of London published ‘The Lass of -Town’ with instructions that it should be sung to the tune of Irish Molly O but this isn’t the tune that Phil Tanner uses. My friend Laura Smyth sings a song called ‘The Lass of Manchester Town’ to a similar tune to ‘The Lass of Swansea Town’ and a band called Oak used to sing ‘The Lass of Newcastle Town’ so this explanation makes sense. Despite this, Palmer confidently states “Suggestions that there is an Irish version of this song, as The Blooming Rose of Antrim, have proved unfounded, and Phil Tanner’s recording is apparently unique.”

On the Digital Tradition Mirror website it says that the words (Brian Hicks’ words, not Phil Tanner’s) were collected from the Kenny family from Kitchuses, Newfoundland, and also that Ken Peacock had transcribed it from the singing of Harry Curtis from Joe Batt’s Arm, Newfoundland, in July 1952. Harry said they he had learnt the song when the cargo vessel he was working on stopped in Wales.

Where next?

You can hear versions of the song in the following places:
Phil Tanner, Phil Tanner, EFDSS, 1968
Phil Tanner, A Soldier’s Life for Me, The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8, Topic, 1970
Phil Tanner,The Gower Nightingale, Veteran, 2003
Roy Harris, The Rambling Sailor, Fellside Recodings Ltd, 1995
Mike Waterson, Mike Waterson, Topic, 1999
The Watersons, Mighty River of Song, Topic, 2004
The Watersons, For Pence and Spicy Ale, Topic, 2006
Jon Boden, A Folk Song A Day: March, Navigator Records, 2011

Songs of the Newfoundland Outports by the National Museum of Canada, 1965.

If you’d like to hear more folk songs about Swansea try ‘Swansea Town’ or ‘I’m Going home to Swansea Town’ which sung to the tune of a song called ‘Holy Ground’ and is available on:
Max Boyce, The Very Best of Max Boyce, 2005,
The Sherringham Shantymen, All at Sea, Clovelly Recordings Ltd, 2008
The Band of the Prince of Wales’ Division, We’ll Keep a Welcome, Bandleader Records, 2010

This song has also been arranged by Holst and this can be found on these CDs, amoung many others:
Treorchy Male Voice Choir, Songs You Have Loved, EMI Records Ltd, 2009
Robert Shaw Chorale, Sea Shanties, BMG Music (the holst arrangement), 1961,

http://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/Pea547.html
http://collections.mun.ca/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/munfla_list&CISOPTR=2642
http://www.worldcat.org/title/swansea-town-hampshire-folk-song/oclc/12193484 – which version?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Geofferybard/Draft_Essay_on_Videographic_Documentation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEDkZMzhMCg

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Myn Mair

[scroll down for English]

Gan ein bod ni dipyn o’r ffordd mewn i adfent yn barod dwi’n teimlo y ddylwn i fod yn sgwennu am gân Plygain. Yn anffodus dwi ddim wedi cael y cyfle i recordio carol Plygain tri llais eto ond dwi’n gobeithio gwneud yr erthygl nesaf ar gân Plygain adnabyddus. Yn lle, dyma gân sydd yn ymddangos mewn rhai llyfrau Plygain (megis Hen Garolau Cymru: 60 o Garolau Plygain gan Arfon Gwilym a Sioned Webb) ond sydd, yn fy marn i, ddim yn gân Plygain go iawn. Rydym yn meddwl amdani fel gân Plygain oherwydd ei bod hi’n dod o’r oes cywir ac yn gân grefyddol a Phabyddol. Ond mae pwrpas y gân yn wahanol i’r caneuon Plygain arferol.

Candle

Canwyll. Gan @Kkalyan ar flick

Byddaf yn egluro mwy am y draddodiad Plygain y tro nesaf ond, yn fras, mae carolau Plygain yn cael eu canu adeg Nadolig er mwyn dathlu geni Crist (fel carolau Nadolig pob diwylliant!) ond hefyd er mwyn meddwl am ymhlygiadau o fywyd a marwolaeth Iesu. Yn aml maen’t yn efengylaidd ac yn ganeuon mawr swmpus sy’n cael eu canu efo balchder a lleisiau uchel.

Mae Myn Mair yn wahanol – mae’n gân mewnblyg, trist a theimladwy sy’n cael ei ganu o safbwynt galarwr. Mae’r alarwr yn cynnig popeth gallai – arian, canwyllion a gweddion – er mwyn achub enaid ei ffrind / cariad felly mae pwrpas y gân yn wahanol i’r ganeuon Plygain arferol. Am ryw reswm dwi wastad yn dychmygu taw merch ifanc sy’n canu’r gân a bod ei gŵr wedi cael ei ladd mewn rhyfel a bod y merch ddim yn mynd i gael ei gorff yn ôl i’w gladdu. Mae’r nodiadau yng nghefn Canu’r Cymry II gan Phyllis Kinney a Meredydd Evans yn awgrymu rhywbeth ychydig llai rhamantus…

Gwreiddiau

Yn ôl Canu’r Cymry II cafodd Myn Mair ei gasglu gan Myra Evans o Geinewydd, Ceredigion. Roedd hi wedi dysgu’r gân oddi wrth ei hendaid Daniel Williams, hefyd o Geinewydd, a dwedodd o bod y gân arfer cael ei ganu mewn achlysuron ‘gwylnos’, sef y noson cyn angladd. Mae hwn yn awgrymu bod y cân yn cael ei ganu gan ffrindiau, nid partneriad torcalonus yn unig.

Mae’r geiriau yn gwneud hi’n amlwg taw gân Babyddol yw hi ac mae hi felly yn dyddio nôl i’r adegau cyn y diwygiad Protestanaidd yn y 16fed ganrif. Rydym hefyd yn gwybod bod hyn yn gân Babyddol gan fod Daniel Williams wedi dweud wrth mam Myra i beidio canu’r gân neu bydd y ddau ohonynt yn cael eu taflu allan o’r capel roeddent yn mynychu!

Ble nesaf

Gallwch dod o hyd i’r geiriau yn:
Hen Garolau Cymru: 60 o Garolau Plygain gan Arfon Gwilym a Sioned Webb, Cwmni Cyhoeddi Gwynn, 2006
Caneuon Traddodiadol y Cymry / Traditional Songs of the Welsh gan Arfon Gwilym, Cwmni Cyhoeddi Gwynn, 2006
Canu’r Cymry II: Detholiad o Ganeuon Gwerin (Welsh Folk Songs) gan Phyllis Kinney a Meredydd Evans, Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru, 1997.

Mae ychydig o gorau yn canu gosodiad clasurol o’r gân:
Cantorian Cywrig, 101 o Garolau, Sain, 2010
Cor Coleg Sant Ioan Caergrawnt (conductor George Guest), Sain, 1988

Ychydig o flynyddoedd yn ôl gwneaeth Rhys Mwyn, cyn gerddor pync, penderfynnu archwilio i’w gefndir cerddorol (mae’n dod yn wreiddiol o Lanfair Caereinion ym Maldwyn lle mae’r traddodiad Plygain dal yn gryf). Aeth i sawl gwasanaeth Plygain a gwnaeth rhaglen deledu ynglŷn â’r traddodiad. Yn ogystal, gwahoddodd nifer o gantorion gwerin cyfoes Cymru i ail-drefnu a recordio fersiynnau newydd o ganeuon Plygain. 9Bach cafodd y fraint o wneud Myn Mair:
9Bach, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Plygain, Anhrefn Records, 2010

Fel arfer dwi’n hoff iawn o fandiau cyfoes yn chwarae o gwmpas efo caneuon gwerin, yn ychwanegu alawon newydd ac yn defnyddio offerynnau sydd ddim yn draddodiadol i ddehongli’r hen ganeuon mewn ffyrdd newydd. Ond am ryw reswm, efallai gan fy mod i wedi tyfu fyny yn mynychu gwasauthau Plygain traddodiadol, mae’n well gen i berfformiadau o ganeuon Plygain sy’n ddigyfeiliant ac heb ormod o addurniad, megis rhein:
Meredydd Evans, Merêd, Sain, 2010
Elin Manahan Thomas, In Memoriam: Music for Funerals, WMC Records, 2007 – gwrandewch ger youtube

Geiriau

Fy hatling offrymaf dros enaid dan glo,
Fy nghanwyll gyflwynaf yn eglwys y fro,
‘R offeren weddïa’ saith seithwaith yn daer
Er cadw ei enaid anfarwol, Myn Mair.
Myn Mair, Myn Mair.

Sant Pawl a Sant Peder, holl seintiau y nef,
A Mair, Mam y Duwdod, eiriolwch yn gref
Dros iddo gael heddwch, a gwerthfawr ryddhad,
Paradwys agored, a breichiau ei Dad.
Myn Mair, Myn Mair.

Mam Iesu’r brydferthaf o ferched y byd,
Morwynig Frenhines y nefoedd i gyd,
Dlos lili y dyffryn, gwiw rosyn y nef,
Eiriolwch dros enaid fy nghyfaill yn gref.
Myn Mair, Myn Mair.

Nodyn bach ar Trad2Mad

Efallai byddwch wedi sylwi fy mod i’n cyflwyno’r fideo uchod trwy dweud rhywbeth am “Trad2Mad”. Dyma gystadleuaeth wych sy’n cael ei redeg gan Clwb Gwerin Islington yn Llundian. I gymryd rhan mae’n rhaid recordio eich hyn yn canu cân ddigyfeiliant – unrhywbeth o gân draddodiadol (trad) hyd at gân ychydig yn ddoniol neu wallgof (mad) – a’i roi ar youtube. Mae’n gystadleuaeth mor dda achos gall unrhywun cymryd rhan o unrhywle yn y byd. Dwi wedi cymryd rhan am y dair mlynedd dwethaf, yn rhannol gan bod hi’n esgus da i ddysgu a recordio cân sy’n newydd i mi, ond dyma’r tro cyntaf i mi ganu cân Cymreig. Basau’n dda gweld mwy o gystadleuwyr o Gymru yn 2014!

In Mary’s Name

As we’re a fair way into advent already I feel I should write about a Plygain song. Unfortunately I haven’t yet had a chance to record a three part Plygain carol but I’m hoping to do the next article on a well known Plygain song. Instead, here’s a song which appears in some Plygain books (such as Hen Garolau Cymru: 60 o Garolau Plygain by Arfon Gwilym) but which, in my opinion, isn’t really a Plygain song. We think of it as a Plygain song because it comes from the right period and because it has religious and Catholic lyrics. But the purpose of the song is different from that of the typical Plygain song.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

Mary by @Raymond Brown via flickr

I’ll explain more about the Plygain tradition next time but, briefly, Plygain carols are sung at Christmas time to celebrate the birth of Christ (as with every culture’s Christmas carols!) but also to think about the implications of Jesus’ life and death. Often the lyrics are evangelistic and they are big songs which are sung proudly in loud voices.

Myn Mair is different – it’s an introverted, sad and poignant song which is sung by a mourner. The mourner offers everything – money, candles and prayers – in order to save the soul of their friend / lover so the purpose of the song is very different from the usual Plygain songs. For some reason I always imagine the song to be sung from the point of view of a young woman whose husband has been killed in a war and that she won’t be getting his body back to bury him. The notes in the back of Canu’r Cymry II by Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans suggest something a little less romantic…

Origins

According to Canu’r Cymry II, Myn Mair was collected from Myra Evans from Newquay, Ceredigion. She’d learnt the song from her great-grandfather Daniel Williams, also from Newquay, who said that the song used to be sung in ‘gwylnos’ evenings (a vigil, literally ‘night festival’) the night before a funeral. This implies that it was often sung by friends, not just heartbroken partners.

The lyrics make it obvious that this is a Catholic song so it dates back to the times before the 16th century Protestant reformation. We also know it’s a Catholic song because Daniel Williams told Myra’s mother that they shouldn’t sing it or they’d both be thrown out of the chapel they belonged to!

Lyrics

I’ve translated the title as In Mary’s Name although this isn’t strictly what it means. Other people translate the song as ‘O Mary’ which I think sounds a little weak for such a powerful song. Others, including Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans, translate is as ‘By Mary’ because ‘myn’ is used in expressions such as ‘myn Duw’ (the equivalent of ‘by Jove’). However the word ‘mynnu’ in Welsh means to insist so I think Myn Mair literally means ‘I insist on it Mary’, which isn’t a very poetic title. If anyone can offer a better translation I’d be interested in hearing it!

My half farthing I offer for a soul in prison,
My candle I present in the district church,
The Mass I’ll pray earnestly, seven times seven,
To save his immortal soul, O Mary.
O Mary, O Mary.

St. Paul and St. Peter, all the saints of heaven,
And Mary, God’s Mother, plead strongly
That he may have peace and precious relief,
Paradise open, and the arms of his Father.
O Mary, O Mary.

Mother of Jesus, the most beautiful of earth’s women,
Maidenly Queen of all of the heavens,
Lovely lily of the valley, worthy rose of heaven,
Intercede strongly for the soul of my friend.
O Mary, O Mary.

Where next

You can find the lyrics and tune printed in:
Hen Garolau Cymru: 60 o Garolau Plygain by Arfon Gwilym and Sioned Webb, Cwmni Cyhoeddi Gwynn, 2006
Caneuon Traddodiadol y Cymry / Traditional Songs of the Welsh by Arfon Gwilym, Cwmni Cyhoeddi Gwynn, 2006
Canu’r Cymry II: Detholiad o Ganeuon Gwerin (Welsh Folk Songs) by Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans, Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru, 1997.

A few choirs sing a classical arrangement:
Cantorian Cywrig, 101 o Garolau, Sain, 2010
Cor Coleg Sant Ioan Caergrawnt (conductor George Guest), Sain, 1988

A few years ago Rhys Mwyn, the former punk musician, decided to research his musical background (he comes from Llanfair Caereinion in Montgomeryshire where the Plygain tradition is still very strong). He went to several Plygain services and make a TV programme about the tradition. He also invited some contemporary Welsh folk musicians to rearrange and record new versions of Plygain songs. 9Bach had the privilege of doing Myn Mair:
9Bach, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Plygain, Anhrefn Records, 2010

I usually really like it when contemporary bands play around with folk songs, adding new tunes and using non-traditional instruments to interpret the old songs in new ways. But, for some reason, perhaps because I grew up attending traditional Plygain services, I prefer Plygain songs to be performed unaccompanied and with minimal ornamentation, such as these:
Meredydd Evans, Merêd, Sain, 2010
Elin Manahan Thomas, In Memoriam: Music for Funerals, WMC Records, 2007 – listen via youtube

A note about Trad2Mad

You might have noticed that I introduce the video above by saying something about “Trad2Mad”. This is a great competition which is run by Islington Folk Club in London. To take part you record yourself singing an unaccompanied song – anything from a traditional song (trad) to something a little more humorous or crazy (mad) – and put it on youtube. It’s a good competition because anyone can take part from anywhere in the world. I’ve entered three times, partly because it’s a good excuse to learn and record a new song, but this is the first time I’ve entered with a Welsh song. It would be great to see more competitors from Wales in 2014!

Mae Islwyn Prifardd Cymru yn y Bedd

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Dyma gân arall ces i allan o’r archif yn Sain Fagan o ganu Bertie Stephens. Dwi’n meddwl taw alaw bachog y corws wnaeth ddenu fi at y gân yn y lle cyntaf. Ond mae’r geiriau hefyd yn ddiddorol. Mae nhw’n ffurfio rhyw fath o restr o feirdd ac emynwyr Cymreig enwog sydd wedi mawr. Dwedodd Bertie ar y recordiad bod o wedi prynnu’r geiriau, mwy na thebyd mewn taflen broadside neu ‘chapbook’, sy’n meddwl fod hi’n dod o’r 19fed / 20fed ganrif, ond dim yn gynharach na 1883 oherwydd dyna pan fu farw un o’r beirdd yn y gân. Mae’r gân yn ddiddorol achos mae’n dangos taw, yn yr adeg honno, y beirdd a’r emynwyr oedd yr enwogion go iawn yn y gymdeithas. Dyma fywgraffiad fyr o’r rhan fwyaf o’r bobl sydd yn y gân:

Dafydd Ddu Eryri (c) Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dafydd Ddu Eryri (c) Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dafydd Ddu Eryri (1759 – 1822): Ganwyd fel David Thomas. Roedd yn athro ysgol ac hefyd yn athro i lawer o feirdd eraill yn ardal Arfon oedd yn cael eu hadnabod fel ‘cywion Dafydd Ddu’. Bu farw gan foddi yn yr afon Cegin ar noson ystormus a chladdwyd ym mynwent Llanrug.

Gwilym Rees Hiraethog (1802 – 1883): Y Parchedig William Rees efo’r enw barddol Gwilym Hiraethog. Cafodd ei fagu ar fferm yn Sir Ddinbych yng nghysgod Mynydd Hiraethog. Yn 1843 sefydlodd y cylchgrawn Yr Amserau yn Lerpwl er mwyn ymgyrchu am ddadsefydlu’r  eglwys yng Nghymru ac ysgrifennodd erthyglau pobglogaidd o dan y teitl ‘The Letters of an Old Farmer’. Ysgrifennodd dau nofel yn ogystal a cherddi, emynau, traethodau a dramau. Mae wedi claddu ym mynwent Smithdown Road, Lerpwl.

Ceiriog (1832 – 1887): Enw llawn Ceiriog oedd John Ceiriog Hughes – cafodd ei alw’n Ceiriog oherwydd cafodd ei eni yn Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. Gweithiodd ar orsafau rheilffyrdd ym Manceinion a Chaersws ond roedd hefyd yn fardd a chasglwr o alawon gwerin. Argraffwyd casgliad o alawon gwerin o’r enw Cant o Ganeuon a’i fwriad oedd i roi ail fywyd i’r alawon trwy ysgrifennu geiriau newydd i’r hen alawon. Dafydd a’r Garreg Wen yw’r un mwyaf adnabyddus. Cafodd Oriau Hwyr, casgialad o’i gerddi, ei gyhoeddi yn y 1850au.

Lasynys (1671 – 1734): Awdur, offeiriad ac emynwr o’r enw Elis Wyn oedd yn dod o dŷ o’r enw Lasynys Fwr yn Nhalsarnau. Ei waith mwyaf enwog yw’r casgliad o gerddi o’r enw Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg. Mae wedi claddu yn Llanfair, ger Harlech. Gallwch dal mynd i ymweld a’i dŷ – gwelwch lasynys.co.uk

Ieuan Gwynedd (1820 – 1852): Cafodd Evan Jones bywyd anodd oherwydd salwch. Collodd llawer o ysgol fel plentyn yna roedd yn aflwyddiannus fel bancwr ac mewn ceisio sefydlu ysgolion ym Maldwyn. Buodd yn weinidog ar gapel Sardis, Llanwddyn am sbel cyn dod o hyd i waith fel athro. Roedd yn fwy llwyddiannus fel ysgrifennwr erthyglau a llythyron ar fateron crefyddol mewn cylchgronnau megus Yr Amserau ac yn golygu Almanac y Cymry ac Y Gymraes. Arweiniodd yr ymateb i adroddiad y Llyfrau Gleision. Mae wedi claddu yng Nghroes Wen.

Williams Pantycelyn (1717 – 1791): Emynwr o fri o fferm Pantycelyn ger Beulah o’r enw William Williams. Roedd yn bwriadu dod yn ddoctor ond yna newiddd ei feddwl a hyfforddodd i fod yn offeiriad. Cafodd o byth ei ordeinio ohewydd ei gysylltiadau efo’r mudiad Methodistiad oedd yn dechrau ar y pryd. Daeth yn arwienydd ar y ddiwygiad Methodistiaid yng Nghymru yn trafelio hyd a lled yr wlad yn sefydlu seiatau. Cyhoeddwyd sawl gyfrol o’i emynau ac ysgrifennodd cerddi a rhyddiaith hefyd. Claddwyd yn Llanfair-ar-y-bryn ger Llanymddyfri lle fu’n fyw am ran fwyaf ei fywyd.

Ann Griffiths (1776 – 1805): Roedd hi’n dod o Lanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa ym Maldwyn. Tyfodd hi fyny yn mynychu’r eglwys Anglicanaidd ond newidiodd hi i fod yn Fethodist Calvinaidd ar ôl marwolaeth ei mam. Ysgrifennodd hi llawer o emynau cafodd eu ysgrifennu lawr gan ei forwyn Ruth Hughes. Ar ôl ei marwolaeth trefnodd gwr Ruth, John, i Robert Jones cyhoeddi’r emynau mewn gyfrol o’r enw Grawn-Syppiau Canaan. Wele’n Sefyll Rhwng y Myrtwyd yw’r enwocaf. Claddwyd yn Llanfihangel.

Alltud Glyn Maelor (1800 – 1881): Crydd oedd John Robert Jones oedd hefyd yn sgwennu emynau, carolau a phennillion ddigri. Cafodd 2 lyfr eu cyhoeddi – Y Fodrwy Arian ac Y Rhosyn Diweddaf. Roedd yn gwerthu ei emynau am geiniog neu ddau ar gerdiau bach. Yr emyn mwyaf adnabyddus yw Cofio’r wyf yr Awr Ryfeddol. Daeth o Lanarmon-yn-Iâl yn wreiddiol ond ymgartrefodd yn Brymbo.

Dafydd Ionawr (1751 – 1827): Athro oedd David Richards a oedd hefyd yn ysgrifennu cerddi. Cafodd ei eni ym mis Ionawr. Roedd yn hoff o ysgrifennu cywyddion ond ysgrifennodd hefyd taflen broadside efo’r teitl Hanes Bywyd Dafydd Ionawr oedd yn gerdd medr rhydd yn esbonio ei daith i geisio cael pobl i ymrestru tanysgrifwyr i’w gywydd a’r ffaith bod o wedi bod yn aflwyddiannus. Mae wedi claddu yn Nolgellau.

Mae llawer iawn o gysylltiadau rhwng caneuon gwerin Cymru a Christnogaeth a bydd cyfle i drafod rhein mewn blogs eraill. Am y tro rhaid nodi fod corws y gân yma efo thema crefyddol amlwg. Dydy hi ddim yn efengylaidd hytrach mae’n dweud bod yr holl bobl emwog yma efo Iesu fel petai’n ffeithiol. Mae hyn yn dangos sefyllfa cadarn Cristnogaeth yng Ngymru ar y pryd.

Patrick Dean o’r Foxglove Trio sy’n ymuno efo fi yn y corws.

Ble nesaf

Doeddwn i ddim wedi clywed y gân cyn clywed hi yn archif Sain Ffagan. Os oes unrhywun yn gwybod mwy am gefndir y gân neu ble arall gallwch clywed recordiad gadewch sylw isod.

Geiriau

Mae Islwyn Prifardd Cymru yn y bedd,
A Dafydd Ddu Eryri yn y bedd,
Mae efe’n fardd a gluno,*
A’r felys fardd fynyddo,*
A Gwilym Rees Hiraethog yn y bedd,
A thawel iawn yw Ceiriog yn y bedd.

Yn y bedd, ar y lan,
Yn y bedd, ar y lan,
Mae’r Iesu yno’i hunan ar y lan.

Lasynys yntai’n gorwedd yn y bedd,
Ac hefyd Ieuan Gwynedd yn y bedd,
A Williams Pantycelyn
Emynwr anghyffredin,
A Dafydd Ddu Eryri yn y bedd,
A Harri Wen* ceir wedyn yn y bedd.

Yn y bedd, ar y lan,
Yn y bedd, ar y lan,
Mae’r Iesu yno’i hunan ar y lan.

Ann Griffiths hithau’n huno yn y bedd,
A’r mwyn arweinydd Tundo* yn y bedd,
Golulan* wedi tewi,
Glyn Maelor wedi aelodi,
A Dafydd Ddu Eryri yn y bedd,
A Dafydd Ionawr ddedwydd yn y bedd.

Yn y bedd, ar y lan,
Yn y bedd, ar y lan,
Mae’r Iesu yno’i hunan ar y lan.

*= Doeddwn i methu deall pob gair ar y recordiad felly mae’n bosib fod y llinellau hyn yn anghywir. Os oes ganddoch awgrymiadau am beth all y geiriau fod gadewch sylw isod!

Islwyn the Chief Bard of Wales is in the Grave

This is another song I got from the Saint Fagans archive from a recording of Bertie Stephens. I think it was the catchy chorus that first attracted me to the song but it’s also got interesting words. The lyrics are a sort of role call of famous dead Welsh poets and hymn writers. Bertie said on the recording that he’d bought the words, probably as a broadside or chap book, which means that the song comes from the 19th / 20th century but no earlier than 1883 because that’s the year in which one of the mentioned poets died. The song is interesting because it shows that poets and hymn writers were the revered celebrities of the era. It’s worth noting, for anyone unfamiliar with the concept, that calling people by the house / village they come from has long been and still is common in Wales. Here’s a short biography of most of the people mentioned in the song:

Dafydd Ddu Eryri (1759 – 1822): David Thomas was a school teacher who also taught lots of other poets in the Arfon area. They were known as Cywion Dafydd Ddu (Dafydd Ddu’s chicks). He was drowned yn y Cegin river on a stormy evening and is buried in Llanrug.

Gwilym Rees Hiraethog (1802 – 1883): The Reverend William Rees with the bardic name of Gwilym Hiraethog (Gwilym is Welsh for William). The farm on which he was brought up was in the shadow of the Hiraethog Mountain. In 1843 he established the journal Yr Amserau (The Times) in Liverpool in order to campaign for the disestablishment of the church in Wales and he wrote popular articles under the title of ‘The Letters of an Old Farmer’. He wrote two novels as well as lots of poems and also hymns, essays and dramas. He’s buried in Smithdown Road Cemetary, Liverpool.

John Ceiriog Hughes (from wikipedia)

John Ceiriog Hughes (from wikipedia)

Ceiriog (1832 – 1887): Ceiriog’s full name was John Ceiriog Hughes – he was called Ceiriog because he was born in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. He worked on the railways in Manchester and Caersws but he was also a poet and a collector of folk tunes. He printed a collection of folk tunes under the title Cant o Ganeuon (A Hundred Songs) and he intended to give the old tunes a second life by writing lyrics to the tunes he’d collected. Dafydd a’r Gareg Wen (Dafydd and the White Rock) and Llwyn Onn (The Ash Grove) are some of his best well known lyrics. Oriau Hwyr (Late Hours), a collection of his poems, was published in the 1850s.

Lasynys (1671 – 1734): Elis Wyn was an author, cleregyman and hymn writer who came from a house called Lasynys Fawr (Big Blue Island) in Talsarnau. His most famous work is his collection of poems called Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg (Visions of the Sleeping Poet). He is buried in Llanfair, near Harlech. It’s still possible to visit the house – see lasynys.co.uk

Ieuan Gwynedd (1820 – 1852): Evan Jones had a difficult life because of ill health. He missed a lot of school as a child and was then unsuccessful as a banker and in attempting to establish schools in Montgomeryshire. He was a minister at Sardis Chapel, Llanwddyn for a while before finding work as a teacher. He was more successful as a writer and wrote articles and letters on religious issues in journals such as Yr Amserau (The Times) and he edited Almanac y Cymry (The Welsh people’s Almanac) and Y Gymraes (The Welsh Woman). He led the response to the Blue Books report which concluded that education in Wales was in a dire state due, in part, to the widespread use of the Welsh language. He is buried at Groes Wen.

Williams Pantycelyn (1717 – 1791): William Williams was a prolific hymn writer from Pantycelyn farm near Beulah. He intended to become a doctor but changed his mind and trained as a priest. But he was never ordained because of his links with the burgeoning Methodist movement at the time. He became a leader of the Methodist reformation in Wales and travelled around the country establishing ‘seiats’. He wrote several volumes of hymns and also wrote prose. He is buried in Llanfair-ar-y-Bryn near Llanymddyfri where he’d lived for most of his life.

Ann Griffiths (1776 – 1805): She came from Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa in Montgomeryshire. She grew up attending the Anglican church but changed to be a Calvinist Methodist after her mother’s death. She wrote a lot of hymns which were written down by her maid Ruth Hughes. After her death Ruth’s husband, John, arranged for Robert Jones to publish the hymns in a volume called Grawn-Syppiau Canaan. Wele’n Sefyll Rhwng y Myrtwyd (See Him Standing Among the Myrtles) is her most famous hymn. She’s buried in Llanfihangel.

Alltud Glyn Maelor (1800 – 1881): John Robert Jones was a shoemaker who also wrote hymns, carols and funny verses. He had two books published – Y Fodrwy Arian (The Silver Ring) and Y Rhosyn Diweddaf (The Last Rose). He sold his hymns for a penny or two on small cards. His most well known hymn is Cofio’r wyf yr Awr Ryfeddol (I Remember the Wonderful Hour). He originally came from Lanarmon-yn-Iâl but made his home in Brymbo.

Dafydd Ionawr (1751 – 1827): David Richards was a teacher who also wrote poems. He was born in January (which is Ionawr in Welsh). He liked to write cywydd (a Welsh alliterative poem form) but he also wrote a broadside sheet with the title Hanes Bywyd Dafydd Ionawr (The Story of Dafydd Ionawr’s Life) which was a free verse poem explaining his journey to try and enlist people to subscribe to his cywydd and the fact that he’d been unsuccessful in this. He’s buried in Dolgellau.

There are lots of links between Welsh folk songs and Christianity and there will be an opportunity to discuss these in other blogs. For now, we must note that the chorus of this song has a very obvious religion theme. It isn’t evangelistic rather it says that all of these famous Welsh people are now with Jesus as if it’s a matter of fact. This shows the strong state of Christianity in Wales at the time.

Patrick Dean from  The Foxglove Trio sings with me in the chorus.

Where next

I hadn’t heard this song before I found it in the St Fagan’s archive. If anyone knows more about the background to the song or where else you can hear a recording please leave a comment below.

Lyrics

This is my translation from the words I transcribed at St Fagan’s. They may not be 100% the same as what Bertie Thomas learnt from the published version. If I ever find a copy of the published sheet I will correct the lyrics. * = Lines I’m unsure about.

Islwyn the main bard of Wales is in the grave,
And Dafydd Ddu Eryri is in the grave,
He’s a bard who stays,*
Sweet bard from the mountains,*
And Gwilym Rees Hiraethog is in the grave,
And Ceiriog is very quiet in the grave.
In the grave, on the shore,
In the grave, on the shore,
Jesus is there himself on the shore.

Lasynys, he is also lying in the grave,
And also Ieuan Gwynedd is in the grave,
And Williams Pantycelyn
The unusual hymn writer,
And Dafydd Ddu Eryri in the grave,
And Harri Wen* you’ll then find in the grave.

In the grave, on the shore,
In the grave, on the shore,
Jesus is there himself on the shore.

Ann Griffiths is also sleeping in the grave,
And the gentle leader Tundo* In the grave,
Golulan Is quiet,*
Glyn Maelor has joined them,
And Dafydd Ddu Eryri in the grave,
And Dafydd Ionawr is happy in the grave.

In the grave, on the shore,
In the grave, on the shore,
Jesus is there himself on the shore.

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