1 March is St David’s Day, the Welsh national day. Since Wales is famous for its music and particularly its male voice choirs, what better way to celebrate than with a video of the national anthem sung by modern choir Only Men Aloud?
The anthem, “Land of my Fathers” (Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau), was written in 1856 by father and son Evan and James James. It’s a beautiful song, but is especially moving when sung in multiple-part harmony by a male-voice choir. Male choirs became a tradition in Wales in the 18th century, linked to churches, and then to all-male industries such as mining.
The effect of hearing the massed spectators at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff singing it a capella before a rugby match is absolutely electrifying. Only Men Aloud (pictured above in Welsh jerseys at the stadium), is a modern version of the choir, founded in 2000, and now including a boys’ and a youth wing (Only Boys Aloud made it to the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2012.) So what better way to celebrate St David’s Day than to watch them singing the anthem?
They are of course singing it in Welsh, but assuming most of our readers aren’t fluent Welsh speakers, here’s the English version:
Land of My Fathers.
This land of my fathers is dear to me
Land of poets and singers, and people of stature
Her brave warriors, fine patriots
Shed their blood for freedom
Land! Land! I am true to my land!
As long as the sea serves as a wall for this pure, dear land
May the language endure for ever.
Old land of the mountains, paradise of the poets,
Every valley, every cliff a beauty guards;
Through love of my country, enchanting voices will be
Her streams and rivers to me.
Though the enemy have trampled my country underfoot,
The old language of the Welsh knows no retreat,
The spirit is not hindered by the treacherous hand
Nor silenced the sweet harp of my land.
Or why not try singing along to the chorus in Welsh?
Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.