Carol Edward Samwel


Y teulu hynod haelion,
Cydganwn yn deg union
Fawl gydlais, fêl, gaeadlon,
Yn dirion hinon ha’;
Ac eiliwn gyda’n gilydd
Yn llawen i’n Pen Llywydd
Ganmoliaeth helaeth, hylwydd
Am ddedwydd dywydd da.

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Carol Edward Samwel

—Edward Samwel’s Carol

Edward Samwel was the vicar of Llangar Church near Corwen (the original name was Llan Garw Gwyn – the Church of the White Deer). He was the great grandfather of David Samwell, Dafydd Ddu Feddyg, Captain Cook’s surgeon. The original poem has 10 verses, each one making full use of ‘cynghanedd’. The melody was first noted by John Jenkins (Ifor Ceri) around 1815, under various names: ‘Mwynen Mai’ or ‘Llafar Haf’ or ‘Gwen Lliw’r Lili’ – a melody from South Wales.

The translation which follows is singable to the tune. It’s not a strict literal translation of the Welsh lyrics but it’s very close.

Ye kindly friends and neighbors,
Come let us sing together
A song of true thanksgiving
For pleasant summer days,
The praise of God Almighty
Whose mercy never ceases,
Whose blessings ever follow
In many wondrous ways.

And now we hear the music
That fills the fields and forests,
We see the wealth and beauty
Of summer-time again,
With dew and gentle showers
That feed the crops and flowers:
O may we praise the Giver
And wonder at his ways.

The bees among the heather,
With industry and patience,
Seek out their store of honey
While shines the summer sun;
So let us also gather
The gifts of bounteous nature,
That life be sweet and happy
Until our days are done.

May Carols or Summer Carols

May Day was a time for celebration and merriment, through dance and song – and raising the maypole – not just in Wales of course. One part of the tradition was for small parties of singers (men, mostly, it seems!) to go from house to house early in the morning to sing ‘May Carols’ (Carolau Mai) or ‘Summer Carols’ (Carolau Haf). Christmas carols are much better known in Wales than the summer ones. (In the collection ‘Traditional Songs of the Welsh’, first published in the 1960s, only three summer carols were included).

The earliest summer carols that have survived in Wales come from the beginning of the 17th century, and most of them have religious elements (despite the pagan origins of the celebrations in ancient times). The carols usually contain a greeting for the family, a celebration of the revival of nature after the hard winter months, thanks to the Almighty for his generosity and good wishes to the household. They also often contain references to current affairs such as wars, taxes, rising prices etc.

Canu Haf

 The notation for this song and more is available in the collection Canu Haf

Y teulu hynod haelion,
Cydganwn yn deg union
Fawl gydlais, fêl, gaeadlon,
Yn dirion hinon ha’;
Ac eiliwn gyda’n gilydd
Yn llawen i’n Pen Llywydd
Ganmoliaeth helaeth, hylwydd
Am ddedwydd dywydd da.

Wrth glywed llais yr adar
A sain eu llefain llafar,
A gweled wyneb hawddgar
Y ddaear glaear glyd,
A rhywiog wlith y bore,
Cenhadon i ddwyn cnyde,
Disgwyliwn am des gole
A ffrwythe gore’i gyd.

Y gwenyn hyd y gweunydd
A dynnant dan adenydd
Y mêl o bob meillionwydd
Yn gelfydd, hirddydd ha’;
Gwnawn ninnau’n gywrain unwedd
Y gorau o bob trugaredd
I lân gyweirio’n buchedd
At gyrredd diwedd da.

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