Tuesday, March 01, 2005
A cold wet day which would have suited, no doubt, 'Dewi Ddyfrwr' (David the Water Drinker) as the Saint was known. To which theme there is a family twist. My Great-Uncle Thomas Bedford Richards, a colleague of the composer Parry (think 'Jerusalem') was a Baptist lay pracher and a friend of Daniel James. James wrote the words for the Hymn 'Calon Lan' one Sunday at a social occasion, and T.B Richards composed the original music on the spot. Recall this was the end of the 19th Century when Wales was 'Dry' on a Sunday and only 'bona fide' travellers could buy a drink in a hotel. So... this soaring hymn was written by a bunch of Baptist dignitaries in a Hotel in Wales on a Sunday afternoon, on the back of a cigarette packet. David the Water-Drinker might have choked on his watercress sandwiches.
The music we are most familiar with now is the tune composed later by John Hughes however and I have never actualy heard the Family Version sung by a choire. And this last Sunday I had a bit of a jolt. Switched on the TV and got Songs of Praise on screen, and they were singing Calon Lan according to the subtitles. But my hearing aid batteries were dead so I couldnt hear the music. From what I could lipread they seemed to be singing to a different beat than to the 'Hughes' tune. Raced to find a new battery but they had finished siging before I could get it in. Did I miss a singing of the T. Bedford Richards Music? Not even Google can get me an answer to this...
Happy St Davids Day anyway.