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‘Praise the Lord! We are a Musical Nation’: The Welsh Working Classes and Religious Singing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2020

Helen Barlow*
Affiliation:
The Open University

Abstract

The title quotation from Under Milk Wood encapsulates a widely held belief in the innate musicality of the Welsh and its religious roots. These roots were put down deeply during the nineteenth century, in a huge expansion of choral and congregational singing across Wales and particularly in the industrial communities. This development has been described as ‘a democratic popular choral culture rooted in the lives of ordinary people’, and central to it was the cymanfa ganu, the mass hymn-singing festival. Choral and congregational singing, typified by the cymanfa ganu, underpinned the perception of Wales by the Welsh and by many non-Welsh people as ‘the land of song’.

Alongside this phenomenon ran the tradition of the plygain, a Welsh Christmas carol service. While the cymanfa developed in nonconformist chapels in the mid to late nineteenth century, and on a large – often massive – scale, the plygain is a tradition dating from a period much further back, when Welsh Christianity was Catholic; it belonged to agricultural workers rather than the industrial communities; and the singers sang in much smaller groups – often just twos or threes.

This article describes the nature and origins of these contrasting traditions, and looks at the responses of listeners both Welsh and non-Welsh, and the extent to which they perceived these practices as expressive of a peculiarly Welsh identity. It also considers some of the problems of gathering evidence of working-class responses, and how far the sources give an insight into working-class listening experiences.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2020

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References

1 The origin of the idea that Wales is ‘the land of song’ is obscure – before the 1830s the term appears rather in connection with Italy. An impression of the development of the use of the term in relation to Wales may be gained by a search for it in the historical newspapers digitized in Welsh Newspapers Online (a resource containing nearly 120 newspapers and covering the period 1804 to 1919). As Andrew Cusworth has pointed out, the earliest search result in connection with Wales is from The Cambrian in 1835; see Cusworth, ‘Towards a Digital Land of Song’ (PhD thesis, The Open University, 2015): 19. The search reveals no other such references during the 1830s or before, but it does show the application of the phrase to Wales becoming more frequent during the 1840s and 1850s; it is a commonplace thereafter.

2 Roberts, L.J., ‘Wales: A Land of Song’, Welsh Outlook: A Monthly Journal of National Social Progress, 5/11 (1918): 337Google Scholar. The author was almost certainly Lewis Jones Roberts, a HM Inspector of Schools and music editor of the periodicals Cymru and Cymru'r Plant (Children's Wales) – see William Llewelyn Davies, ‘Roberts, Lewis Jones’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-ROBE-JON-1866.html (accessed 11 July 2018).

3 Arguably, the Welsh were widely and devoutly Nonconformist for political reasons perhaps as much as spiritual ones. Nonconformity was closely bound up with Liberal opposition to the Tory Anglican hegemony, and offered a largely disenfranchised people both a means of religious expression in their own language (though the plygain is proof that not all Anglican worship in Wales was conducted in English), and democratic or quasi-democratic forms of religious organization within which to exercise a measure of self-determination.

4 The scholarship of nineteenth-century Welsh music history is not as extensive as one might think – several much-cited books and articles are now quite dated, and, in the manner of older works, they are often frustratingly lacking in source citations and bibliographical references. More scholarly and recent works include Williams, Gareth, Valleys of Song: Music and Society in Wales 1840–1914 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998)Google Scholar and Do You Hear the People Sing?: The Male Voice Choirs of Wales (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 2015); numerous articles on Welsh traditional music by D. Roy Saer, several of which are cited in the footnotes below; Kinney, Phyllis, Welsh Traditional Music (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011)Google Scholar; a number of articles on Welsh choral singing by Rhidian Griffiths, again cited below; James, E. Wyn, ‘The Evolution of the Welsh Hymn’, in Dissenting Praise: Religious Dissent and the Hymn in England and Wales, ed. Rivers, Isabel and Wyke, David L (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)Google Scholar; Croll, Andy, Civilizing the Urban: Popular Culture and Public Space in Merthyr, c. 1870–1914 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000)Google Scholar; Herbert, Trevor, ‘Popular Nationalism: Griffith Rees Jones (“Caradog”) and the Welsh Choral Tradition’, Music and British Culture, 1785–1914, ed. in Bashford, Christina and Langley, Leanne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)Google Scholar, and, on a different but related topic, his publications on the Cyfarthfa brass band, including ‘Late Victorian Welsh Bands: Taste, Virtuosity and Cymmrodorion Attitudes’, in Welsh Music History 1 (1996): 92–102; and Rachelle Barlow, ‘The “Land of Song”: Gender and Identity in Welsh Choral Music’ (PhD thesis, Cardiff University, 2016).

5 See Herbert, ‘Popular Nationalism’.

6 The National Museum of History/Amgueddfa Werin Cymru is an open-air museum based on Scandinavian precedents. It houses gallery displays of artefacts, but its main draw for visitors lies in the reconstructed historic buildings from around Wales which have been dismantled, moved from their original locations, and rebuilt on the St Fagans site. See https://museum.wales/stfagans/.

7Gwerin’ becomes ‘werin’ here, following a Welsh grammatical rule of mutation.

8 It has at various times been the Welsh Folk Museum, the Museum of Welsh Life and the National Museum of History. Throughout, its Welsh name Amgueddfa Werin Cymru has remained unchanged. See Mason, Rhiannon, ‘Nation Building at the Museum of Welsh Life’, in Museum and Society 3/1 (2005): 1834Google Scholar; also Douglas Bassett, ‘The Making of a National Museum: Part III’, in Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (1984): 217–316.

9 Morgan, Prys, ‘The Gwerin of Wales – Myth and Reality’, in The Welsh and Their Country, ed. Hume, I. and Pryce, W.T.R. (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 1986): 135Google Scholar.

10 Morgan, ‘The Gwerin of Wales’, 146.

11 While distinct from English-language Christmas carol services, several authors have noticed family resemblances with other Celtic Christmas traditions in, for example, Cornwall and the Isle of Man. See Davies, A. Stanley, The Christmas Morn Carol Service of Celtic Countries (Iver Heath: A. Stanley Davies, 1950)Google Scholar, and Rev. Fisher, Chancellor J., ‘Two Welsh-Manx Christmas Customs’, Archaeologia Cambrensis 84 (1929): 308–16Google Scholar.

12 See Richards, Gwynfryn, ‘Y Plygain’, Journal of the Historical Society of the Church in Wales, 1 (1947): 59Google Scholar, and Owen, Trefor, Welsh Folk Customs, new edition (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 1987): 31Google Scholar.

13 See Saer, D. Roy, ‘The Christmas Carol-Singing Tradition in the Tanad Valley’, Folk Life, 7/1 (1969): 32CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Saer noted in the 1960s that in both the churches and the Nonconformist chapels of mid-Wales and northwest Wales the typical time for the service was 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. (‘Christmas Carol-Singing Tradition’, 19). The Church in Wales's Keep the Feast: Plygain (Penarth: The Board of Mission, the Church in Wales, 2000), sets it within the context of the Evensong liturgy (p. 34), presumably on the basis that Evensong is now a more familiar service to church-goers than Matins, and is held at a more hospitable time of day for present-day congregations. However, as will be noticed in the oral history evidence I cite, several interviewees recalled that their local plygain service took place at 6 a.m., so clearly the move to an evening service was not as general as some sources might suggest.

14 The Church in Wales is the name of the modern Anglican Church as it exists in Wales. It was founded in 1920 on the disestablishment of Anglicanism as the official state religion in Wales. Previously the Anglican dioceses of Wales had been part of the Church of England.

15 Morgan, Enid R., ‘What is a plygain?’, in Keep the Feast: Plygain (Penarth: The Board of Mission, the Church in Wales, 2000): 7Google Scholar.

16 In different Welsh dialects it may also be found as plygein, plygien, plygen, pylgain and pylgaint. See for instance Richards, ‘Y Plygain’, 53, and Saer, ‘The Christmas Carol-Singing Tradition’, 19.

17 Evans, Frederic, “Tir Iarll” (The Earl's Land): Comprising the Ancient Parishes of Llangynwyd, Bettws, Margam, and Kenfig (Cardiff: The Educational Publishing Co., [1912]): 163Google Scholar.

18 James O'Brien, ‘Y Plygain’, in The Transactions of the Aberafan and District Historical Society (1928) (unpaginated).

19 Fisher, ‘Two Welsh-Manx Christmas Customs’, 310.

20 Owen, Welsh Folk Customs, 9.

21 Davies, Jonathan Ceredig, Folk-Lore in West and Mid-Wales (Aberystwyth: Welsh Gazette Offices, 1911): 5960Google Scholar.

22 Willis’ Survey of St Asaph was originally published in 1719, its author being the antiquary Browne Willis, who wrote a number of diocesan, cathedral and county surveys. The edition consulted here is the revised version by Edwards, Edward, entitled Willis’ Survey of St. Asaph, Considerably Enlarged and Brought Down to the Present Time (London, 1801), Vol. 1, 230Google Scholar.

23 Broadley, A.M., ed., Doctor Johnson and Mrs Thrale: Including Mrs Thrale's Unpublished Journal of the Welsh Tour Made in 1774 and Much Hitherto Unpublished Correspondence of the Streatham Coterie (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1910): 186Google Scholar.

24 The Salusburys were descendants of Catrin of Berain, which gave them a long Welsh lineage and related them to many other significant north Wales families. See William Llewelyn Davies, ‘Katheryn of Berain’, in The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, https://biography.wales/article/s-CATR-BER-1534 (accessed 20 April 2018).

25 Grace Roberts, ‘Mrs. Hester Thrale's Connection with the Vale of Clwyd’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (1953): 103. Unfortunately, Roberts does not cite a reference for the letter, which seems to be untraceable.

26 Roberts, Robert, A Wandering Scholar: The Life and Opinions of Robert Roberts, ed. Davies, J.H., introduced by John Burnett and H.G. Williams (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991)Google Scholar. Robert Roberts (1834–1885) was the child of a tenant farmer who, unable to pay the rent, lost his farm and was reduced to labouring. Roberts did not go to school, but he came from a literate family interested in self-improvement through reading, and he was himself something of a child prodigy, able to read from the family Bible at the age of three. Having initially trained for the Methodist ministry, he was later ordained as an Anglican priest but was dismissed (probably rather harshly) for drunkenness. In the early 1860s he emigrated to Australia, where he wrote his autobiography as well as researching Celtic languages and starting to compile a Welsh–English dictionary. He returned to Wales in 1875, but the last decade of his life was difficult and unhappy, his attempts to find work compromised by his earlier dismissal. See also Thomas Iorwerth Ellis, ‘Roberts, Robert’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-ROBE-ROB-1834.html (accessed 30 May 2018).

27 Roberts, A Wandering Scholar, 66–8.

28 Roberts, A Wandering Scholar, 66–8.

29 Vincent, David, Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Working Class Autobiography (London: Methuen, 1981): 2Google Scholar.

30 J.H. Davies, unpaginated Introduction to the 1923 edition of A Wandering Scholar, reprinted in the 1991 edition.

31 Roberts, A Wandering Scholar, xxxvii. Burnett had previously published an extract from it in his Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education and Family from the 1820s to the 1920s (London: Allen Lane, 1982).

32 Roberts, A Wandering Scholar, 66.

33 See Ray Looker, ‘Kenward, James’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-KENW-JAM-1868.html (accessed 30 May 2018).

34 See Robert Thomas Jenkins, ‘Williams, John (Ab Ithel)’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-WILL-JOH-1811.html; see also Griffith John Williams, ‘Williams, Edward (Iolo Morganwg)’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-WILL-EDW-1747.html (accessed 30 November 2017).

35 Saer, D. Roy, ‘A Midnight Plygain at Llanymawddwy Church’, in ‘Canu at Iws’ ac Ysgrifau Eraill / ‘Song for Use’ and Other Articles (Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru, 2013): 82Google Scholar. D. Roy Saer was a curator at St Fagans from 1963 to 1995, specializing in Welsh traditional song; he was a member of the research team conducting oral history interviews and recording singers of traditional songs, and his work still represents the most extensive and important research on the plygain. Recordings of plygain carols made as part of that project were released on the Sain label in 1977; they are now available on CD or digital download (together with recordings of another Welsh singing tradition, the stable-loft song), as Caneuon Plygain a Llofft-Stabal (Traditional Plygain Carols and Stable-Loft Songs from Wales) Sain SCD2389.

36 The account appears in Kenward, James, ‘Ab Ithel’, The Cambrian Journal (1864): 132–40Google Scholar. Kenward included it as ‘The Plygain’ in his collected volume For Cambria: Themes in Verse and Prose, A.D. 1854–1868 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1868): 259–64. It has subsequently been reprinted several times – an indication of the almost canonical status it has acquired as the classic description of the plygain – in Saer's ‘A Midnight Plygain’, for example, and in the CD booklet to the Church in Wales's publication Keep the Feast: Plygain (Penarth: The Board of Mission, the Church in Wales, 2000).

37 Kenward, ‘Ab Ithel’, 133.

38 The poem appears in Kenward's For Cambria, 28–32.

39 Though claiming some distant Welsh descent, Augusta Hall, Lady Llanover was, like Kenward, an English champion of the Welsh language and culture who had ‘gone native’. See Marion Löffler, ‘Hall, Augusta, Lady Llanover (‘Gwenynen Gwent’)’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://wbo.llgc.org.uk/en/s10-HALL-AUG-1802.html (accessed 30 May 2018). She is now seen as having instigated various ‘invented traditions’ including Welsh national costume, but despite the often rather dismissive judgements that have subsequently been passed on her, she was for many years a highly visible and vocal figurehead in the effort to preserve, shape and promote Welsh national consciousness – albeit always in the loyal service of a greater Britain.

40 ‘Report on the Counties of Brecknock, Cardigan, and Radnor’, 66, in Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales, 1847, Parliament, Command Papers, Vol. 339, https://parlipapers.proquest.com/parlipapers (accessed 30 May 2018).

41 Morgan, ‘The Gwerin of Wales’, 143–6.

42 For example, Davies, Martin, ‘Cofio'r plygain’, Cambria, 14/2 (2015): 49Google Scholar: ‘Yn hanesyddol, dynion yn unig fyddai'n canu, a hynny mewn tri llais, sef alaw, tenor a bas’ (‘Historically, only men would sing, in three voices, namely melody, tenor and bass’). Roy Saer observed that plygain services in the Tanad Valley in the 1960s were indeed still male-dominated, ‘with a marked preference for mixed quartettes and (an archaic feature in itself perhaps) trios’ (‘Christmas carol-singing tradition’, 20).

43 Gwilym, Arfon, ‘Plygain: Local or National?’, Planet, 209 (2013): 129–32Google Scholar.

44 ‘Farmer’, in the nineteenth-century Welsh context, generally indicates something more like smallholder: ‘in broad terms Wales was characteristically a land of smallholdings of less than 50–100 acres’ many in upland and moorland areas. See Thomas, Colin, ‘Rural Settlements in the Modern Period’, in Settlement and Society in Wales, ed. Huw, D. Owen (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1989): 249–67Google Scholar, and specifically 258 and note 41. Welsh farmers were generally small tenants working in family units. The 1851 census showed that 49 per cent of Welsh farms were smaller than 50 acres, and 73 per cent were smaller than 100 acres.

45 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 1390, typed transcript, 2.

46 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 1390, transcript, 5 (my translation).

47 Welsh speakers reading these quotations should bear in mind that the oral history interviewees speak in their local dialects, and that this is further subject to the quirks of transcription – hence the variations from standard Welsh spellings.

48 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 1390, transcript, 11 (my translation).

49 A.M. Allchin, ‘The Plygain Carols’, Fairacres Chronicle, 20/3 (1987): 10.

50 National Museum of Wales, oral histories, Tape 809, transcript, 13.

51 National Museum of Wales, oral histories, tape 979, transcript, 47–9 (my translation).

52 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 1390, transcript, 3–4 (my translation).

53 Allchin, ‘Plygain Carols’, 10.

54 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 809, transcript, 5 (my translation).

55 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 809, transcript, 4 (my translation).

56 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 809, transcript, 5 (my translation).

57 For the Welsh carol tradition, see Chapter 6 of Phyllis Kinney's Welsh Traditional Music (Cardiff: University of Wales Press in association with Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru, 2011); Saer, ‘Christmas Carol-Singing Tradition’; Ifans, Rhiannon, ‘Folk Poetry and Diversions’, in A Guide to Welsh Literature c.1700–1800, ed. Jarvis, Branwen (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000): 187–9Google Scholar; Enid Pierce Roberts, ‘Hen Garolau Plygain’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (1954), Session 1952, 51–70, and by the same author a shorter piece in English, ‘The Plygain Carols’, in the Church in Wales's publication Keep the Feast: Plygain (Penarth: The Board of Mission, the Church in Wales, 2000): 18–23.

58 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 979, transcript, 55 (my translation).

59 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 809, transcript, 11.

60 However, in recent years the Church in Wales has been keen to widen the appeal of the service, suggesting that, while ‘in a largely English-speaking area, it would be magnificent to begin and end with a Welsh carol’, plygain carols are ‘the offering of the people as they are’, and hence perfectly acceptable in English. See Walters, John, ‘Reclaiming a Tradition’, in Keep the Feast: Plygain (Penarth: The Board of Mission, the Church in Wales, 2000): 35Google Scholar.

61 National Museum of History, Cardiff, oral history collection, Tape 979, transcript, 55 (my translation).

62 Griffiths, Rhidian, ‘Musical Life in the Nineteenth Century’, in Glamorgan Society 1780–1980, ed. Morgan, Prys, Glamorgan County History 6 (Cardiff: Glamorgan History Trust, 1988): 376Google Scholar.

63 See in particular Williams's Valleys of Song and Do You Hear the People Sing?.

64 See Robert David Griffith, ‘Jones, Moses Owen’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-JONE-MOS-1842.html (accessed 30 May 2018).

65 Jones, Moses Owen, ‘The Culture of Music Amongst the Masses in Wales’, in Wales To-day and To-morrow, ed. Stephens, T. (Cardiff: Western Mail, 1907): 334Google Scholar.

66 Jones, R. Tudur, Faith and the Crisis of a Nation: Wales 1890–1914 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2004): 108Google Scholar.

67 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Royal Commission on the Church of England and Other Religious Bodies in Wales and Monmouthshire (1910 Parliament), Vol. VII, Appendices to Minutes of Evidence. Nonconformists, Appendix XXXVI, Submitted by the Rev. H. Eynon Lewis (Q. 44903), ‘A Sketch of the History of the Growth and Development of Congregational Singing and Choral Music Among Welsh Nonconformist Churches Generally, But More Particular Among the Congregationalists’, by Mr. M.O. Jones, of Treherbert, 142, https://parlipapers.proquest.com/parlipapers (accessed 11 July 2018).

68 Turner, Christopher B., ‘The Nonconformist Response’, in People and Protest: Wales 1815–1880, ed. Herbert, Trevor and Elwyn, Gareth Jones (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1988): 74Google Scholar. Turner also provides evidence from the 1851 Religious Census of the scale of Nonconformist worship in Wales and of the accompanying rates of chapel building – see ibid., Source C2 and Source C4, pp. 86 and 87.

69 The journal was founded in 1861 by Rev. John Roberts (Ieuan Gwyllt), of whom more below. He was also its editor, modelling it on the Musical Times; Williams, Valleys of Song. 29.

70 Y Cerddor Cymreig (The Welsh Musician), Rhif. 24, Chwefror 1, 1863, 191.

71 Russell, Dave, Popular Music in England, 1840–1914: A Social History, second edition (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997): 253Google Scholar.

72 Croll, Andy, Civilizing the Urban: Popular Culture and Public Space in Merthyr, c. 1870–1914 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000): 124, 128Google Scholar.

73 Croll, Civilizing the Urban, 116–17.

74 Croll, Civilizing the Urban, 115.

75 She died in 1907, but her birth date is disputed. She gave it as 1847, while Gareth Williams gives it as 1845 (Valleys of Song, 64–5), and the Dictionary of Welsh Biography gives 1842; see Robert David Griffith, ‘Hughes, Megan Watts’ Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-HUGH-WAT-1842.html (accessed 30 November 2017).

76 John Watts, ‘Life of Megan Watts Hughes’, National Library of Wales, NLW MS 21457D. In his account of the acquisition of the manuscript by the National Library of Wales, Huw Williams states that John Watts intended the memoir for publication but was unable to afford the publication costs. Williams further says that Watts based the memoir closely on his sister's diaries (from which he does indeed often quote directly), though the diaries themselves were apparently destroyed – by whom is not clear. See Williams, Huw, ‘A Fu Golledig ac a Gafwyd …’, in Taro Tant: Detholiad o Ysgrifau ac Erthyglau (Dinbych: Gwasg Gee, 1994): 67–8Google Scholar.

77 Watts, ‘Life of Megan Watts Hughes’, 23.

78 An iron puddler's unenviable job was to stir molten iron in a furnace to turn raw, brittle, pig iron into malleable wrought iron.

79 Watts, ‘Life of Megan Watts Hughes’, 25–6.

80 Williams, Valleys of Song, 26. John Mills also used the word cymanfa to describe a similar kind of assembly in his Gramadeg Cerddoriaeth [Musical Grammar] (1838), which was an earlier attempt to raise the standard of religious music; see Griffiths, Rhidian, ‘Welsh Chapel Music’, Journal of Welsh Ecclesiastical History 6 (1989): 38Google Scholar.

81 Griffith, R.D., Hanes Canu Cynulleidfaol Cymru (Caerdydd: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, 1948), 94–5Google Scholar. According to Griffith, before 1875, the usual terms were undeb canu cynulledifaol (congregational singing union), cymanfa gerddorol (musical assembly) and cyfarfod canu cynulleidfaol (congregational singing meeting).

82 See Robert David Griffith, ‘Roberts, John’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-ROBE-JOH-1822.html (accessed 20 May 2018).

83 Williams, Valleys of Song, 27.

84 Williams, Valleys of Song, 31.

85 Turner, Christopher B., ‘Religious Revivalism and Welsh Industrial Society: Aberdare in 1859’, Llafur: The Journal of Welsh People's History 4/1 (1984): 4Google Scholar.

86 Griffiths, ‘Musical Life in the Nineteenth Century’, 374.

87 Turner, ‘Religious Revivalism’, 11.

88 McGuire, Charles Edward, Music and Victorian Philanthropy: The Tonic Sol-fa Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009): 7Google Scholar.

89 McGuire, Music and Victorian Philanthropy, 68–9.

90 Numerous examples are found in the archives of the National Museum of History, St Fagans.

91 Griffiths, ‘Musical Life in the Nineteenth Century’, 370.

92 Curwen, John Spencer, Studies in Worship Music, Second Series (London, [1885]): 2021Google Scholar.

93 Curwen, Studies in Worship Music, 19.

94 This echoes a point that Martin Clarke makes in his article in this journal issue (pp. 390–391), when he suggests that the reaction of Serena Thorne to the singing of a Welsh congregation ‘could not have been entirely rational’ because she did not understand the language, but that ‘the importance of actually hearing the music is crucial’. However, while Curwen refers to the ‘strong emotional nature of the Celt’, he is not entirely succumbing to an idea of what constitutes Welshness in religious singing, as he recognizes in hwyl a more general, if now-defunct, phenomenon that had once pertained in Methodist singing.

95 The word hwyl has a range of meanings, from the slight (in the sense of ‘fun’) to the profound. In the latter register, it refers to a style of oratory adopted by Welsh preachers, and more broadly to emotional or religious fervour, and is thus also applicable to the kind of ecstatic expression often achieved in cymanfa singing.

96 Curwen, Studies in Worship Music, 21–22.

97 See note 81. The terms cerddorol/gerddorol and canu/ganu distinguish the gathering from other kinds of cymanfaoedd, such as the cymanfa bwnc, a catechizing or Bible recitation assembly, and the annual general assemblies of the Calvinistic Methodists.

98 Thomas Breese, ‘Cymanfa Cerddorol M. C. Trefaldwyn Uchaf’ (1919), National Library of Wales, Calvinistic Methodist Archives CZ2/8/21.

99 See National Library of Wales, http://hdl.handle.net/10107/928484.

100 Breese, ‘Cymanfa Cerddorol’, iv (my translation).

101 Breese, ‘Cymanfa Cerddorol’, 8v (my translation).

102 Breese, ‘Cymanfa Cerddorol’, 12 (my translation).

103 Martin Clarke, ‘Hearing and Believing: Listening Experiences as Religious Experiences in Nineteenth-Century British Methodism’ in this issue, p. 399.

104 Luff, Alan, Welsh Hymns and Their Tunes (Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing, 1990): 114–16Google Scholar.

105 South Wales Daily News, 6 May 1875, quoted in Tom Jones, ‘Hanes Cymanfa Ganu’, published in Y Darian, 26 December 1929.

106 Morien was the bardic name of Owen Morgan. See Robert Thomas Jenkins ‘Morgan, Owen’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s1-MORG-OWE-1836.html (accessed 30 May 2018)

107 Western Mail, 6 May 1875, quoted in Tom Jones, ‘Hanes Cymanfa Ganu Dosbarth Canol Rhondda’, published in Y Darian, 19 December 1929.

108 Edwards merits a brief entry under that of his better-known father, Edward Edwards (Pencerdd Ceredigion), in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-EDWA-EDW-1816.html (accessed 20 May 2018).

109 ‘Is the Welsh National Musical?’, letter from Jack Edwards to the Welsh Gazette and West Wales Advertiser, 27 April 1899.

110 John Lloyd Williams held a lectureship in botany at Bangor University, and was also a choral conductor and adjudicator, and a founder and key figure of the Welsh Folk Song Society. See Robert Alun Roberts, ‘Williams, John Lloyd’, in Dictionary of Welsh Biography, http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-WILL-LLO-1854.html (accessed 30 May 2018).

111 National Library of Wales, Dr J Lloyd Williams AD3/3 Music MSS and Papers, AD3/3/1, Typescript of lecture on ‘Congregational singing in Nonconformist Wales’, dated Harlech, August 1941, 1.

112 Western Mail, 6 May 1875.

113 Croll, Civilizing the Urban, 120.

114 National Museum of Wales, oral histories, Tape 3385, transcript, 17–18 (my translation).

115 Y Cerddor Cymreig (The Welsh Musician), Rhif 137, 1 Gorphenaf 1872, 54 (my translation).

116 Williams, Valleys of Song, 26. Williams suggests that ‘there were only four actual entertainment halls in south Wales in 1880’ (p. 28).

117 Roberts, ‘Wales: A Land of Song’, 337.

118 Cambria Daily Leader, 8 Sept 1917.

119 There were several periodicals of this title around this time – his was published in Aberdare. His editorship began in 1858 – it is not clear for how long it continued. He had also previously edited a nationalist periodical while living in Liverpool, which had a thriving Welsh community.

120 R.T. Jones, Faith and the Crisis of a Nation, 109–10.

121 Evidence of the Bishop of Bangor, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, Royal Commission on the Church of England and Other Religious Bodies in Wales and Monmouthshire (1910 Parliament), Vol. IV, Minutes of Evidence, Book III, 534, para. 48462, https://parlipapers.proquest.com/parlipapers (accessed 11 July 2018).

122 M.O. Jones, ‘‘A Sketch of the History of the Growth and Development of Congregational Singing’, 142.

123 Evidence of the Bishop of Bangor, 534, para. 48469.

124 John Lloyd Williams, ‘Cymanfa Ganu yr Eglwys yn y Cathedral’ [The Church Cymanfa Ganu in the Cathedral], National Library of Wales, Dr J Lloyd Williams Papers, MB3/5 (ii) (unpaginated; my translation).

125 R.T. Jones, Faith and the Crisis of a Nation, 111.

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‘Praise the Lord! We are a Musical Nation’: The Welsh Working Classes and Religious Singing
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‘Praise the Lord! We are a Musical Nation’: The Welsh Working Classes and Religious Singing
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‘Praise the Lord! We are a Musical Nation’: The Welsh Working Classes and Religious Singing
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