Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
English: Old Land of My Fathers

National anthem of  Wales

Lyrics Evan James, 1856
Music James James, 1856

Music sample
"Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" (Instrumental)

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Welsh pronunciation: [heːn wlɑːd və ˈn̥adaɨ]) is the national anthem of Wales.[1] The title – taken from the first words of the song – means "Old Land of My Fathers" in Welsh, usually rendered in English as simply "Land of My Fathers". The words were written by Evan James and the tune composed by his son, James James, both residents of Pontypridd, Glamorgan, in January 1856.[1][2] The earliest written copy survives and is part of the collections of the National Library of Wales.[2]

The earliest composition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau in the hand of the Author, James James, 1856


Glan Rhondda (Banks of the Rhondda), as it was known when it was composed, was first performed in the vestry of the original Capel Tabor, Maesteg (which later became a working men's club), in either January or February 1856, by Elizabeth John from Pontypridd, and it soon became popular in the locality.[2]

James James, the composer, was a harpist who played his instrument in the public house he ran, for the purpose of dancing.[2] The song was originally intended to be performed in 6/8 time, but had to be slowed down to its present rhythm when it began to be sung by large crowds.


"Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", recorded in 1899

The popularity of the song increased after the Llangollen festival of 1858. Thomas Llewelyn of Aberdare won a competition for an unpublished collection of Welsh airs with a collection that included Glan Rhondda. The adjudicator of the competition, "Owain Alaw" (John Owen, 1821–83) asked for permission to include Glan Rhondda in his publication, Gems of Welsh melody (1860–64). This volume gave Glan Rhondda its more famous title, Hen wlad fy nhadau, and was sold in large quantities and ensured the popularity of the anthem across the whole of Wales.[2]

At the Bangor Eisteddfod of 1874 Hen Wlad fy Nhadau gained further popularity when it was sung by Robert Rees ("Eos Morlais"), one of the leading Welsh soloists of his day.[3] It was increasingly sung at patriotic gatherings and gradually it developed into a national anthem.[2]

Hen wlad fy nhadau was also one of the first Welsh-language songs recorded when Madge Breese sang it on 11 March 1899, for the Gramophone Company, as part of the first recording in the Welsh language.[2][4]

In 1905, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau became the first national anthem to be sung at the start of a sporting event.[5][6] Although crowds singing anthems during matches was commonplace, there was no precedent for the anthem to be sung before a game commenced in any sport.[n 1] The Welsh national rugby team were playing host to the first touring New Zealand team, who to that point were unbeaten. After Wales won the Triple Crown in the 1905 Home Nations Championship the match was dubbed the 'Game of the Century' by the press. The New Zealand team started every match with the Haka, and Welsh Rugby Union administrator Tom Williams, suggested that Wales player Teddy Morgan lead the crowd in the singing of the anthem as a response. After Morgan began singing, the crowd joined in,[8] and Wales became the first nation to sing a national anthem at the start of a sporting event.[9]

In 1978 as part of their album, also called Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Geraint Jarman a'r Cynganeddwyr recorded a version of the Welsh national anthem using electric guitars, inspired by Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Jarman's version, played by Welsh guitarist Tich Gwilym is one of the most famous modern versions of the song.[6]

National anthem

Tradition has established Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau as an unofficial Welsh anthem[1] since 1905, when it was first sung by fans at rugby games, although the official national anthem at the time was God Bless the Prince of Wales. Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau slowly established itself as the more popular anthem over the next four decades, and was sung along with God Bless the Prince of Wales and God Save the Queen before sporting events until 1975, when sports officials decided that "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" should be sung alone. Like other British anthems, it has not been established as a national anthem by law, but it has been used as a national anthem at official governmental ceremonies, including the opening of the Welsh Assembly, and at receptions of the British monarchy since the 1970s.[2][6] It is recognised and used as an anthem at both national and local events in Wales.

Usually this will be the only anthem sung: only the first stanza and chorus are usually sung (and in the Welsh language). God Save the Queen, the national anthem of the United Kingdom, is sometimes played alongside Hen Wlad fy Nhadau during official events with a royal connection.[6]

The existence of a separate national anthem for Wales has not always been apparent to those from outside the country. In 1993 the newly appointed Secretary of State for Wales John Redwood was embarrassingly videotaped opening and closing his mouth during a communal singing of the national anthem, clearly ignorant of the words but unable to mime convincingly;[10] the pictures were frequently cited as evidence of his unsuitability for the post. According to John Major's autobiography, the first thing Redwood's successor William Hague said, on being appointed, was that he had better find someone to teach him the words. He found Ffion Jenkins, and later married her.[6]

Versions of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau are used as anthems in both Cornwall, as Bro Goth Agan Tasow, and Brittany, as Bro Gozh ma Zadoù.[10]


Welsh Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Wikisource has original text related to this article:

(First stanza)

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

(Second stanza)
Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.


(Third stanza)
Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.



The following is a fairly free translation in verse.

The land of my fathers is dear to me,
Country of poets and singers, celebrities indeed:
Its warring defenders, so gallant and brave,
For freedom their life's blood they gave

country!, country!, faithful I am to my country!
While seas secure
This land so pure,
O may our old language endure.

O land of the mountains, the bard's paradise,
Whose precipice, valleys are fair to my eyes,
Green murmuring forest, far echoing flood
Fire the fancy and quicken the blood

For tho' the fierce foeman has ravaged your realm,
The old speech of Wales he cannot o'erwhelm,
Our passionate poets to silence command,
Nor banish the harp from your strand.

A more literal translation is:

The old land of my fathers is dear to me,
Land of bards and singers, famous men of renown;
Her brave warriors, very splendid patriots,
For freedom shed their blood.

Nation [or country], Nation, I am faithful to my Nation.
While the sea [is] a wall to the pure, most loved land,
O may the old language [sc. Welsh] endure.

Old mountainous Wales, paradise of the bard,
Every valley, every cliff, to my look is beautiful.
Through patriotic feeling, so charming is the murmur
Of her brooks, rivers, to me.

If the enemy oppresses my land under his foot,
The old language of the Welsh is as alive as ever.
The muse is not hindered by the hideous hand of treason,
Nor [is] the melodious harp of my country.

Other translations include:

The land of my fathers is dear to me,
Old land where the minstrels are honoured and free;
Its warring defenders so gallant and brave,
For freedom their life's blood they gave.

Wales, Wales, true am I to Wales,
While seas secure the land so pure,
O may the old language endure.

Old land of the mountains, the Eden of bards,
Each gorge and each valley a loveliness guards;
Through love of my country, charmed voices will be
Its streams, and its rivers, to me.

Though foemen have trampled my land 'neath their feet,
The language of Cambria still knows no retreat;
The muse is not vanquished by traitor's fell hand,
Nor silenced the harp of my land.


The land of my fathers, the land of my choice,
The land in which poets and minstrels rejoice;
The land whose stern warriors were true to the core,
While bleeding for freedom of yore.

Wales! Wales! fav'rite land of Wales!
While sea her wall, may naught befall
To mar the old language of Wales.

Old mountainous Cambria, the Eden of bards,
Each hill and each valley, excite my regards;
To the ears of her patriots how charming still seems
The music that flows in her streams.

My country tho' crushed by a hostile array,
The language of Cambria lives out to this day;
The muse has eluded the traitors' foul knives,
The harp of my country survives.

Cultural influence

The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is often quoted as saying "The land of my fathers. My fathers can have it!" in reference to Wales. However, this is misleading, as it was a villainous character in one of Thomas' short stories that spoke this line.

Gwynfor Evans named his history of Wales Land of my fathers: 2,000 years of Welsh history. It was a translation of the Welsh original, Aros Mae.

The £1 coins minted in 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2000 with a Welsh emblem on the reverse, also bear the edge inscription PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD ("I am devoted to my country"), from the refrain of "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau".[11] The new Royal Badge of Wales adopted in 2008 features this motto.


  1. In the United States, singing of patriotic songs before games was first observed in the years following the Civil War, with "The Star-Spangled Banner" occasionally being sung before baseball games. However, the song's pregame use did not become customary until the 1920s, and "The Star-Spangled Banner" did not become the official national anthem until 1931.[7]


  1. 1 2 3 "Welsh National Anthem". wales.com. Welsh Government. 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Welsh anthem – The background to Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau". Wales history. BBC Cymru Wales. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  3. "The History of the National Anthem". Rhondda Cynon Taf Library Services. UK. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  4. The first known recording of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, UK: Gathering the Jewels.
  5. "Welsh national anthem". Wales.com website. Welsh Government. 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "The anthem in more recent years". Wales History. BBC. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  7. Cyphers, Luke; Trex, Ethan (8 September 2011). "The song remains the same". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. "School remembers Teddy's 1905 try". BBC. 4 February 2005. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  9. "The 1905/06 'Originals'". NZ: Rugby museum. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  10. 1 2 Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 364. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6.
  11. "Welsh National Anthem". Visit Wales website. Welsh Government. 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012.

Learn to read, pronounce, sing perform Welsh National Anthem; New App published by the National Library of Wales published. https://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/ra/ng/app/908469898

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