In the Aber Valley MVC Blog we will take the occasional closer look at some of our favourite songs, here is the first of what we’ll call our “Repertoire Review…”
One of the most popular songs in the Aber Valley MVC’s Welsh-language repertoire is the hymn ‘Tydi a Rhoddaist’, composed by the late Arwel Hughes (1909-1988) in 1938. Ever since, this classic piece of Welsh music has been performed by choirs the length and breadth of Wales. ‘Tydi a Roddaist’ translates as ‘Thou Gavest’ and was originally a poem written by Thomas Rowland Hughes, twice a winner of the Chair at the National Eisteddfod.
The lyrics of ‘Tydi a Roddaist’ are truly arresting to the Welsh ear. They are simple yet stunning – the opening line ‘Tydi, a roddaist liw i’r wawr’ makes perfect use of tender Welsh vowels and the distinctive rolling ‘r’. A literal translation makes this line ‘Thou gavest colour to the dawn’ but this does not do justice to the connotations of God giving light and warmth to a pastel-coloured Cambrian dawn.
The verses of the song manage to convey the beauty and complexity of creation (from a Christian perspective) without resorting to a complex level of language that might alienate everyday audiences. Thomas Rowland Hughes’ words acknowledge not only the visual awe of creation, but also the power of sound. ‘Tydi a luniaist gân i’r nant, A’i su i’r goedwig werdd’ refers to God giving ‘song to the brook’ and instilling a ‘murmur’ into the woodlands.
Beyond Thomas Rowland Hughes’ achievement in penning such wonderful lyricis ,‘Tydi a Roddaist’ is made even more special in how it was arranged by Arwel Hughes. One night, he sat at Shrewsbury train station and completed the work as he waited for his train. As head of music for BBC Wales from 1965 to 1971, Arwel Hughes was hugely influential in bringing traditional Welsh music to wider public attention. His son, Owain Arwel Hughes is today a renowned talent in the world of orchestral music.
Below is a recording of the Aber Valley MVC performing ‘Tydi a Roddaist.’ Whether you are a Welsh speaker or not, we hope that you might be able to follow the lyrics (beneath the video) and get a sense of how both Hugheses wished to convey the concept of Christian creation and stewardship.
Tydi, a roddaist liw i’r wawr,
A hud i’r machlud mwyn;
Tydi, a luniaist gerdd a sawr,
Y gwanwyn yn y llwyn:
O! cadw ni rhag colli’r hud
Sydd heddiw’n crwydro drwy’r holl fyd.
Tydi, a lunaist gan i’r nant,
A’i su i’r goedwig werdd;
Tydi, a roist i’r awel dant,
Ac i’r ehedydd gerdd:
O! cadw ni rhag dyfod dydd
Na yrr ein calon gan yn rhydd.
Tydi, a glywaist lithriad traed
Ar ffordd Calfaria gynt;
Tydi, a welaist ddafnau gwaed
Y Gwr ar ddieithr hynt:
O! cadw ni rhag dyfod oes
Heb goron ddrain, na chur, na chroes. Amen.
O Thou who gave the dawn its form
And gently set the sun;
O Thou who formed the song and scent
Of sylvan springtime green;
Oh! save us lest the magic goes
That every place in this world knows.
O Thou who gave the brook his song
And murmuring green forest made;
Who gave the breeze its biting tongue
The lark its serenade;
Oh! save us lest we see a day
That cause our heart’s song go away.
O Thou who once heard hesitant steps
On Calvary’s hill of shame;
Who saw the blood in trickling drops
From Man on path so strange;
Oh! save us from our future loss;
No crown of thorns, nor pain, nor cross. Amen.