BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Saturday, 10 June 2006, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Ponty celebrates pride in anthem
James and Evan James
A Pontypridd park statue honours the father and son composers
A week of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Welsh national anthem has begun in its birthplace.

The "heartfelt and inspiring" Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau was written by father and son Evan and James James in Pontypridd in 1856.

The song was not written as a national anthem but became popular at the National Eisteddfod.

Celebratory concerts will be held in the town over the next week, including one by harpist Catrin Finch.

"Wales' national anthem celebrates the feelings of an individual for his country and its culture," said David Gwyer, of Pontypridd Museum.


Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra md,
Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra mr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn i'm golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed.
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

"But the English national anthem celebrates the royal family and one of the verses talks about victory over Scotland in war, just as the Scottish anthem Flower of Scotland talks about victory over the English in war."

Mr Gwyer said the story behind the anthem's composition was also unusual.

"The tune came to James James, a harpist and publican, while he was walking along the bank of the river Rhondda. He then asked his father to compose some suitable patriotic verses," he said.

"Two of his brothers had emigrated to the United States and done well. One of them had written to Evan proposing that he should take the rest of the family over.

"Evan therefore wrote his verses to explain why he chose to stay in his own country which was dear to him."

Events began on Friday with a gymanfa ganu, or singing festival, at St David's Church.

Sunday, 11 June: harp concert featuring Catrin Finch at Ynysangharad Park
12 June: anthem festival, Ynysangharad Park; Gwyn Griffiths anthem book launch, Pontypridd Museum
13 June: Jazz concert, Clwb y Bont
14 June: Cantata youth concert, Ynysangharad Park
15 June: Celtic song and dance, Ynysangharad Park
16 June: jazz, Ynysangharad Park
17 June: choral concert, Ynysangharad Park

By the time Evan James died in 1878 his song had become Wales' anthem.

"It was because the people wanted it to be the anthem, not because any government body said so," said Mr Gwyer.

As well as Catrin Finch's performance, the anniversary events will include a Gymanfa Ganu or hymn singing festival, events for local school children and choral and jazz concerts.

The town council also plan to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the building of the old bridge in the town with a ceremony in August

A concert featuring Max Boyce and Aled Jones was held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh national anthem in Pontypridd last month.

Concert marks anthem anniversary
09 May 06 |  South East Wales
Home town welcomes back Tom Jones
28 May 05 |  South East Wales


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific