Happy Feast of St. David, the patron Saint of Wales! Everyone knows about St. Patrick and the Irish, and most people associate kilts and bagpipes with the Scots, but the Welsh are often overlooked among the Celtic nations. Many common American surnamesGriffith, Griffin, Jones, Jenkins, Davis, Williams, Thomas, Lloyd, and my mother’s maiden name, Roberts, for exampleare very common Welsh surnames, so it’s quite possible that I and many other Americans may have Welsh ancestors without even knowing it.
Such ignorance is a shame, too, because the Welsh language is distinctive, rolling, and musical, a language that seems tailor-made for poetry and song. Here for example is a performance by the folk trio Plethyn, featuring the beautiful vocals of lead singer Linda Healy:
Unfortunately, I don’t understand one tiny word of Welsh, but there is magic in this language! Here is Welsh folk rock singer Cerys Matthews performing the folksong Calon Lan:
Finally, here is a performance of the Welsh national anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers) by Bryn Terfel. The performance style is a bit bombastic for my taste, but the video includes lyrics in English and Welsh set against some lovely Welsh landscapes:
O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.
O may the old language endure.
Amen and Amen! Cymru am byth! Wales forever!