Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

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Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Welsh pronunciation: [heːn wlɑːd və ˈnhadai]) is the national anthem of Wales.[1] The title – taken from the first words of the song – means "Old Land of My Fathers", usually rendered in English as simply "Land of My Fathers". The words were written by Evan James and the tune composed by his son, James James, both residents of Pontypridd, Glamorgan, in January 1856. [1][2] The earliest written copy survives and is part of the collections of the National Library of Wales.[2]

Contents

Origins

Glan Rhondda (Banks of the Rhondda), as it was known when it was composed, was first performed in the vestry of the original Capel Tabor, Maesteg, (which later became a Working men's club), in either January or February 1856, by Elizabeth John from Pontypridd, and it soon became popular in the locality.[2]

James James, the composer, was a harpist who played his instrument in the public house he ran, for the purpose of dancing.[2] The song was originally intended to be performed in 6/8 time, but had to be slowed down to its present rhythm when it began to be sung by large crowds.

Popularity

The popularity of the song increased after the Llangollen Eisteddfod of 1858. Thomas Llewelyn of Aberdare won a competition for an unpublished collection of Welsh airs with a collection that included Glan Rhondda. The adjudicator of the competition, "Owain Alaw" (John Owen, 1821-1883) asked for permission to include Glan Rhondda in his publication, Gems of Welsh melody (1860-64). This volume gave Glan Rhondda its more famous title, Hen wlad fy nhadau, and was sold in large quantities and ensured the popularity of the national anthem across the whole of Wales.[2]

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