And I will sing forever while I live…

Back in February I wrote about the use of contemporary music in Welsh language worship and the lack of it in Welsh churches. In Wales we have an enormously rich poetic heritage and because Wales has been, until recently anyway, a ‘Christian Nation’ from it’s beginning that poetic heritage is one of praise. One of the main arguments I hear against contemporary worship is that “the new songs” (what exactly is the difference between a ‘hymn’ and a ‘song’ I’m not sure?) are poetically and theologically shallow compared to the great works of the Welsh tradition. On the whole I agree with that notion and It’s seen even more acute in Welsh because all contemporary hymns are translations from the English. Some, like say ‘In Christ Alone’, have translated well but others just don’t work in Welsh. We desperately need new contemporary hymns written originally in Welsh, in the mean time my personal preference is to re-arrange the old classics to guitar.

In the recent Llanw festival I lead the worship in one of the meetings and i chose to set and old rich Welsh hymn to a new arrangement. We kept the same tune and I think we even kept the same chord structures but yet again it sounds fresh. Here is the video, words with a rough translation into English underneath:

Caned nef a daear lawr,
fe gaed ffynnon
i olchi pechaduriaid mawr
yn glaer wynion;
yn y ffynnon gyda hwy
minnau ‘molcha’,
ac mi ganaf fyth tra bwy’:

Dyma’r dŵr a dyma’r gwaed
redodd allan,
ac o’i ystlys sanctaidd gaed
i olchi’r aflan;
hon yw’r ffynnon sy’n glanhau
yr aflana’;
yn dragywydd mae’n parhau:

Let heaven and earth below sing,
There is a well
To wash great sinners
Shining white;
In the well they have
I will wash myself too,
And I will sing forever while I live:

Behold the water and behold the blood
which ran out,
And from his holy side flowed
To wash the unclean;
This is the well which cleanses
The foulest;
Eternally it endures:


One Response to “And I will sing forever while I live…”

  1. Jawsy Says:

    Brilliant. I think there are many old Welsh hymns that would work well and become relevant to a newer generation if they received this treatment. There’s such a richness of theology and experience in so many of them and it would be a shame to lose them forever. The use of modern instruments and new arrangements just bring them right up to date.

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