William Williams Pantycelyn

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William Williams Pantycelyn[1] (1717 – 11 January 1791), also known as Williams Pantycelyn and Pantycelyn, is generally acknowledged as Wales' most famous hymn writer. He was also one of the key leaders of the 18th century Welsh Methodist revival, along with Daniel Rowlands and Howell Harris. As a poet and prose writer he is today considered to be one of Wales' greatest writers. The son of a John Wlliams a small farmer at Pantycelyn, his mother's name was Dorothy. His father died in 1742. The farm is located 4 miles from Llandovery in West Wales. As a boy he attended church (Welsh usage: chapel, Welsh language: capel) at Cefnarthen. Later the family identified with the Calvinist doctrines and moved church. Later in his life and after his conversion Williams would prove to be a painstaking upholder of traditional Reformation doctrine in its Calvinist form and give stern warnings against Arminianism, Arianism, Socinianism, Sandelmanism and other deviations (ref.p.7 G. T. Hughes).

Contents

Life

Williams was born in the parish of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn, Carmarthenshire, early in 1717. His family were nonconformist. He was educated locally and intended to become a doctor. This changed when he had a religious conversion while listening to Howell Harris, the evangelical reformer, preaching in Talgarth in 1737.

He took deacon's orders in the Church of England in 1740 and was appointed curate to Theophilus Evans (1693–1767) in the parishes of Llanwrtyd, Llanfihangel Abergwesyn and Llanddewi Abergwesyn. Because of his Methodist activities he was refused ordination as a priest in 1743 and from then on he committed himself entirely to that movement. He travelled throughout the country preaching and establishing seiadau, local fellowships of Methodist people, for the converts he won. Together with Daniel Rowland and Howell Harris, he was the overall leader of the Methodists in Wales in the 18th century. Especially through his hymns, he was one of the most important influences on Welsh language culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. He died in 1791 and is buried in the churchyard at Llanfair-ar-y-bryn on the outskirts of Llandovery. He is commemorated by a memorial chapel at Llandovery.

In common with many other Welsh people whose names are less than unique, he was known by the nickname or bardic name of Pantycelyn, this being the name of the farm in the parish of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn where he lived for most of his life.

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