Tydi a roddaist – a translation

A composition from a station platform…

Tydi a roddaist by Arwel Hughes (scroll down for my translation)

A while ago, I wrote about a fantasy journey I made with the help of my trusty 1922 Bradshaw Railway Timetable. I went to Wales because I spent a lot of time there in my formative years; went to work there eventually and learned a lot of Welsh from an early age there too.

I was always passionately fond of the language (I wouldn’t dream of saying I was fluent) and the landscape; the music and the literature; even the weather! Because as we all know, the sun does shine there most days!

Over the years, I have been struck by Welsh composers and how they managed to imbue their works with that same Welsh colour, spirit and soul. Such writers as Dilys Elwyn Edwards of the beautiful songs; Dr Caradog Roberts – one of the most original hymn tune writers; Arwel Hughes – whose works deserve to be better known; as well as a whole host of other composers.

Wales is a land of singers and is particularly noted for having produced great soloists and choirs – especially male voice choirs.

One piece always transfixed me. Especially in this version by the Morriston Orpheus Choir. There is also another excellent version from The Rhos Male Voice Choir. Here it is. It is called “Tydi a Roddaist” and the music was written by Arwel Hughes on Shrewsbury railway station in the 1938. Hence A Composition from a station platform. The hymn itself is by T. Rowland Hughes (1903-1949) who died young.

The music and the hymn are magical and I hope you like them.

After about fifty tries, I have translated the words myself. I have done that in the rhythm of the hymn so that they will fit the music.

I trust that my efforts will not be too disappointing to the people in Wales – I have tried to keep the spirit of the Welsh words. Please enjoy! Hwyl fawr i bawb!

There are also some literal translations on the web.

Tydi, a roddaist liw i’r wawr,
A hud i’r machlud mwyn;
Tydi, a luniaist gerdd a sawr,
Y gwanwyn yn y llwyn:
O! cadw ni rhag colli’r hud
Sydd heddiw’n crwydro drwy’r holl fyd.

Tydi, a lunaist gan i’r nant,
A’i su i’r goedwig werdd;
Tydi, a roist i’r awel dant,
Ac i’r ehedydd gerdd:
O! cadw ni rhag dyfod dydd
Na yrr ein calon gan yn rhydd.

Tydi, a glywaist lithriad traed
Ar ffordd Calfaria gynt;
Tydi, a welaist ddafnau gwaed
Y Gwr ar ddieithr hynt:
O! cadw ni rhag dyfod oes
Heb goron ddrain, na chur, na chroes. Amen.

Translation:

O Thou who gave the dawn its form
And gently set the sun;
O Thou who formed the song and scent
Of sylvan springtime green;
Oh! save us lest the magic goes
That every place in this world knows.

O Thou who gave the brook his song
And murmuring green forest made;
Who gave the breeze its biting tongue
The lark its serenade;
Oh! save us lest we see a day
That cause our heart’s song go away.

O Thou who once heard hesitant steps
On Calvary’s hill of shame;
Who saw the blood in trickling drops
From Man on path so strange;
Oh! save us from our future loss;
No crown of thorns, nor pain, nor cross. Amen.

Tydi a Roddaist 


16 thoughts on “Tydi a roddaist – a translation

  1. Oh my, this had my chest slightly heaving with emotion. What a truly blessed hymn. The timbres are rich and deep. It rather exposes the soul when listening. Special. very…VERY special. I love hey lyrics you translated, Vox. Well done. Good imagery. A polished entry today!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful translation. This hymn has the best “Amen” there is, at least as I heard it sung, I think, by the Treorchy Male Voice Choir.

    1. Hello Linda, You’re welcome! It took quite a while to put together I will freely admit. I totally agree with you about the “Amen.” I first heard what I always thought of as the definitive recording in the 1970s (although I believe it to have been made earlier than that) – which was by Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir. The recording turned up on youtube and I linked to it. No sooner had I done that and the recording was removed, so I listened to a lot before deciding to go with this one. Each of the recordings of “Tydi a roddaist” has its own merits and there are others outstanding too but I went for this one because the massed voices came closest to the Morriston Orpheus sound. I think that Arwel Hughes made an outstanding contribution to Welsh music with (at least) this hymn setting and at the same time, created a piece which is as universal in its appeal as it is national. A great hymn and a great composition. Thank you for your lovely comment; it is much appreciated. See if you can get to hear the Morriston Orpheus version from the 1960s. When you hear them start the harmony at “lliw i wawr” well, you’ll know what I mean. Diolch yn fawr iawn a phob lwc i chi!

  3. I was looking for the words to Tydi a Rhoddaist because my choir is performing it, so I stumbled across the blog. Very well written, and a great translation. Diolch am y blog!

    1. Hello Iwan, Thank you for stopping by to read it and thank you for your kind comment. It is a most beautiful work isn’t it? Best wishes for your choir’s performance too. Pob lwc i chi a cofion gorau!

  4. And I’ll add my gratitude to the chorus of ‘thank yous’. I was introduced to this song from a recording of Bryn Terfel. I actually copied the translation from the liner notes in my blog, but it’s not all that metrical. I can sing this.

  5. As a Breton, I fell totally in love with welsh language so close to our poor dying tongue. When I listen to welsh choirs (or traditional singers I recognize a lot of words and it’s really moving to see how parents we are…And I’m now learning welsh (began 2 monthes ago !).
    My first encounter with welsh choirs was in 1971 the fabulous LP “5000 voices in the Royal Albert Hall”. You could cry listening to those voices (I cried). Now you can find it on CD, but without the welsh speaker presenting each song. I’m happy to have “the old one”.
    This Tydi a Rhoddaist I “met” it just some monthes ago, searching welsh songs at random on itunes music (aaah, Meredith Evans ! A great discovery).. I burnt a CD with only this song on it, to be listened in my car !!!
    The Amen is just “movissimo”; that’s true. To all the beautiful thinggs that have been said by comments abose, I would add that as a woman I’m extremely moved by men singing, much more than by female choirs. (I insist on “moved” : it’s just a very intimist feeling, nothing to see with a fantasm or things like that). I also think that our celtic great capacty to fly away to an imaginary world helps a lot the emotions…
    Well; I’ld better stop now because my english may not be so easy to understand…
    Thanks a lot for this translation. But finally I prefer going on listening to it without thinking of the translation. Not because I don’t like the words, just to let the mystary “unspoiled”.
    Diolch, a hwyl fawr !

    1. Hello Marie, Thank you so much for your comments. I understand and appreciate all that you have written. Like a lot of Welsh hymns and their tunes this is great music. Your English is fine. No problems there! Also I am very pleased to hear that you are learning Welsh. It would be really good to see Brezh books like the Welsh books for people to learn. There are lots of very good books and dictionaries for Welsh now. They are of great assistance in learning. You must also look for hymn tunes by Caradog Roberts. They are very moving as well. Soon you will not need the translation at all! I was in Brittany in 1999 and found it a beautiful place. Pob hwyl a phob lwc i chi!

  6. Diolch yn fawr “vox turturis” (pwy dach chi, apart from this ?)
    In fact, when I began 3 or 4 months ago (but with a big pause in july and august) , I tried the website for beginners named “SSIW” (Say Something In Welsh), Nice people but I did not feel good with the type of vocabulary : after lesson 5 you’re abble to say “I go, I went, I’m going to, I will go, I shoud go, I have been going, I shoud be going (!!! and more, even !) You are supposed to impress your welsh auditory when you meet one but… you still don’t know how to tell him or her “Hello”, “Please” and “Thankyou”, which seem to me important words to know.
    So now I use the BBC Wales big challenge, in combination with T.J Rhys Jones “a complete course for beginners”, unic welsh studying book available in french.

    And since the universitary year is now beginning, I’ll manage to ask the celtic department in Rennes University if I could come from time to time (I’m currently living out of Brittany, in Le Mans) and assist a welsh course..

    I chose northern welsh but I like both in fact (not so many differences). In breton we also have differences, it depends of the part of Brittany, but there is a “standard”. Unfortunately this “standard” will be understood (and spoken) only by “intellectual people” because natives would not understand it (and anyway native are now dead or going to die…)

    Did you know that the conductor for our Brittany orchestra (in Rennes) is Welsh ? His name is Grant Llewellyn?

    So… diolch fawr da chi
    (diolch fawr would be very different in breton, but for “da chi” we say “da c’hwi” (c’h is like your ch). There are really plenty of similar words between our 2 tongues (but not at the point that we could comunicate, alas !)
    Marie (-Christine)

    1. Hello Marie, I always try to remain “voxturturis” on the blog! I have sent you a private message to your email. It may be in your spam folder. However I can reply here if you prefer. Try and get an old copy of “Teach Yourself Welsh” by T J Rhys Jones and J T Bowen. This is a good start to literary or official Welsh. All the grammar is there to make the best start. You can get that on “abebooks.co.uk”. Not expensive. The book was written in 1960. It gives you a safe and thorough framework to read from. “Hello” is “Shw-mae”. “Shw-mae” is a corruption of “Sut y mae e” which means “How is it?” or just “Hello”; “Please” is “Os gwelwch yn dda”; “Thank you” is “Diolch yn fawr”, “Thank you very much” is “Diolch yn fawr iawn”. Personally, I believe that to get to the core of a language, you cannot go alone from conversational style. Most languages have a literary style that is not really conversational. It is always worth trying to learn from the grammar books, along with reading books and of course, nowadays, using youtube and other materials online. Another very good book is “Modern Welsh” (Routledge Grammars) by Gareth King; also you must try and get a copy of “A Welsh Grammar” by Stephen J. Williams. Study these books. Also, you must have some dictionaries; you can pick up “Y Geriadur Mawr” on abebooks for less than three pounds at the moment, that is a great dictionary. Have it by you always and look up everything as you read! Here is a link to the online Welsh and English dictionary http://welsh-dictionary.ac.uk/gpc/gpc.html use this too! You must get some books to read; also obtain a Welsh Bible and read it too! Try and write your answers in a book and work at translations and reading out loud. Welsh has some high order vocabulary and you have to learn it! Also, take time over plurals, as most need to be learned separately. I hope this is a help to you!

  7. Yes I saw your mai, tahnkkyou. U understand you wish to be just “vox turturis”.
    Thanks a lot for the names of the books. As I said in my previous comment, I already use the TJ Rhys Jones method; because it has been put in french by the celtic department of Brest university.

    Bible… : in old times I had a welsh bible, a very big one, found at random in an “antiques” shop, I bought it because there were personal things written on pages, the whole life of the family who owned this bible. Birth of the children, weddings… Moving. Very moving. I was not interested in welsh at that time, those personal writings were in english. But the bible in itself was written in welsh. Unfortunately it has been lost.

    Yes of course a tongue has several levels to be used, depending whom you’re speaking to? The BBC Wales program is in the everyday life spoken tongue. .They say for instance “Sut dach chi ” when TJ Rhys Jones writes “Sut rydych chi”. That’s why I mix both ways of studying : the TJ Rhys Jones written (and grammatical) one to know the initials forms of words or expressions, and the BBC spoken one, to know how words or expressions are shortened.
    I know that the best way would be a maximum of oral practice : I’ll ask a welsh tteacher in Rennes if he has an idea for this.
    At least, listening to songs is very good for the “ear” to acclimatise. to the sounds of the tongue. Some traditional singers (as I mentioned Meredith Evans) are nice to hear, because when they sing slowly you may identify words rather easily. The same with some tenors.

    For reading books : “oh la la !…” (would say the French !) : time has not come yet !!! Maybe some children boods when (or better sais “if”) some day U’m abble tu do it. But not now !
    I also thought of summer camps in Wales, but it’s not really a way I like. Let’s time go on, and after one year, I’ll see.
    Hwyl fawr !
    Kenavo (breton, literarly “ken a vo : untill ti will be”)
    Marie
    Today sunday : in breton disul, or just Sul
    From my kitchen comes a nice smelling of just made… bara : (I don’t need to translate in welsh, do I?)

    Sorry for writing that long !!!

  8. I’m coming back here just to add something about this Tydi a roddaist : what especailly pleases me in the Amen of both interpretations (Morriston and Rhos, even if I prefer – but not without a big difference of feeling – the Morriston one); apart of course of the “waw” you feel earing such a powerful set of voices, is the little “décalage” (“time difference ? mismatch ? shift ? You’ll understand what I mean I hope) between the sets of voices : the “tenors” arriving just a little bit after the basses. It gives a sort of rythm which increedes (if it was necessary !!!) the emotion. If they begun this Amen exactly all togoether the result would not be the same. Well, for me anyway…
    In music I like this sort of very small details; sometimes really very very small. For example in the very kitsch “My litte welsh home” (I confess I like. Hm !) sung by David Lloyd, I love the way, during a quarter o a second, David Lloyd pronounces “to” in the sentence “it is where I want o die” : he seems to be smiling, and suddenly it gives a real “soul” to a song which otherwise could have been just a nice but just technical interpretation.
    Hm… MC you wrote a bit long, as usual. and for telling things which have no real interest (but anyway : isnt’t it one of the charms of banal conversations, saying things that probably would not interest a lot of persons ?…)
    So, sorry and Hwyl fawr ! (see anybody later on , on recipies posts !!!)

    1. Hello Marie-Christine, I could not let this go without a reply. You have put your finger on what makes real music! I have mentioned it on one of my other pages, for as a musician myself, I do not enjoy clinically accurate performances. The very section that you write of in the Morriston Orpheus recording, is that of “the curious unanimity of crowds” when they have allowed the freshness of the music (it was a new piece then) to determine their performance, and the obvious emotional content has a weight for them which in a laboured, tired or more blase modern performance would be entirely absent. David Lloyd is one of my favourite singers of all time. There is a gentleness about all his interpretations which again, is not present in many musicians today. Please have no worries about the length of the comments and feel free to private message if you would like. Cael hwyl efo’r ryseitiau!

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