minstrel: Re: Lullaby "Ar Hyd y Nos"

Heather Rose Jones hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Wed Apr 30 11:15:50 PDT 1997


On Tue, 29 Apr 1997, Brett and Karen Williams wrote:
> Linda Hopkins wrote:
> > 
> > As to the lullaby "All Through the Night", I have been singing it to my
> > children since they were born (the oldest is 9 3/4).  There is a second
> > verse but, sad to say, I do not know the words.
> > 
> > As a strange coincidence, I heard this the other night on television.
> > 
> > If anyone knows the words to the second verse, please let me know.  My
> > children love this song.
> 
> Have song books, will quote...
> 
> I've cc'd this reply to the minstrel list hoping to get Baroness
> Tangwystl's attention with respect to the Welsh lyrics and their
> provenance. Your Excellency?

The Welsh version (and, unlike "men of Harlech", there seems to be only
one version in circulation), from memory ('cause I'm at school) are:

Holl amrantau'r se^r ddywedant
	Ar hyd y nos
Dyma'r ffordd i fro gogoniant
	Ar hyd y nos
Golau arall yw tywyllwch
I arddangos gwir prydferthwch
Teulu'r nefoedd mewn tawelwch
	Ar hyd y nos

O mo^r siriol gwenna[f?] seren
	Ar hyd y nos
I oleuo'i chwaerddaearen
	Ar hyd y nos
Nos yw henaint pan ddaw cystudd
Ond i harddu dydd a'u hwyrddydd
Rhown ein goleu gwan i'n gilydd
	Ar hyd y nos

The refrain has the sense of "along the course of the night", for which
"all through the night" is a pretty close translation in sense. The
literal translation of the Welsh is more or less as follows:

All the eyelids of the stars are saying,
"Here's the path to the Vale of Glory"
Other light is darkness
I show true beauty
The host of the heavens in peace.

Oh, how cheerful, the bright[est?] star
I give light to sister-earth
Night is old age when [something] comes
But to make [things]  beautiful, day and evening
Give their weak light to each other.

(This is totally from memory, so don't take it as too dependable!)

> My 'bardic' instinct says that the translation fair screams Victorian
> sentiment, but that's my opinion.

Well, the Welsh original screams Victorian sentiment, too. Based on the
language of the verses -- without any other clue -- I guess it was
composed sometime during the 19th century. The key word "gogoniant"
([holy] glory) speaks strongly of the language of non-conformist preachers
and hymn-writers. 

Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn


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