Old World or New, Sacred or Profane

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ar hyd y nos

Yesterday at church, the program listed the closing hymn as For the Fruit of All Creation. I didn’t recognize the title but I sure recognized the tune: An ancient Welsh air known as Ar hyd y nos (no, I don’t speak Gaelic), also known as All Through the Night. I looked in the back of the hymnal and saw that the tune index listed Ar hyd y nos at three different locations in that one hymnal: Go My Children With God’s Blessing, God Who Made the Earth and Heaven, and For the Fruit of All Creation.

Mozart it ain’t. Some totally unknown person or persons, perhaps a poor peasant, made up this simple tune in his, or probably her, home, perhaps to be a sung to her baby, many centuries ago. Yet it still appears in hymnals and many thousands, perhaps millions of people, have sung it and continue to sing it. Mozart should be so lucky.


Erin said...

Is it Gaelic or Welsh? The lyrics I've seen for that title are in Welsh. I know Welsh choirs have claimed it as one of their own 'traditionals', but I wasn't sure if it came from somewhere else before that? I know it's been translated umpteen million times.

Terry said...

I stand corrected. Welsh. It is related to Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic, but still a different language. I gather there's quite a concerted effort over there to keep the Welsh language alive.

Anonymous said...

I heard an eight-year-old child sing it at a talent show at a Scandanavian holiday dinner where all the other children were lip-synching to rap and hard-rock and other things like that. And then there was this one child singing so sweet and pure and it just about made me cry it was so beautiful.