The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #45769   Message #2429647
Posted By: sian, west wales
03-Sep-08 - 06:01 AM
Thread Name: Origins: All Through The Night / Ar Hyd Y Nos
Subject: RE: Versions: All Through The Night / Ar Hyd Y Nos
ah, Mick - sorry, I didn't know the background when I mentioned the Baggies. They're the only ones I've ever heard sing it, but I do like it very much. I think yours is a bit different from theirs? (I haven't listened to it for ages.)

Re: All Through the Night, I thought I had translated the section from Huw Williams' "Canu'r Bobol" (ref. book for Welsh trad song) before, but can't find it. Here, again, then:

* * * * *
First published by Bardd y Brenin ("The King's Poet" = Edward Jones) in Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards, under its present title, and the following year (1785) a tune very like it was included (as well as Bells of Aberdovey) in the opera "Liberty Hall, or The Test of the Goodfellowship" by Charles Dibdin. Bardd Alaw (John Parry, 1776-1851) in The Cambro-Briton (January 1820) that this was the most well-known tune in England in the early years of the previous century, and that because the English words set to it by Mrs Opie (words he described as 'pathetic') had become very popular. ("Here beneath a willow sleepeth poor Mary Anne") The Welsh words which are most often connected with the tune are "Holl amrantau'r se^r ddywedant" (Ceiriog) which were published in "Songs of Wales" (Brinley Richards, 1873). 'Jydsk Vise' was the name of a similar tune sung by the folk of Jutland at the beginning of the present century. (20th)
* * * * *

Me again. In a couple of thread dealing with songs about death I've put details of another version, "Angau" (Death) which I mentioned above. I'm trying to avoid calling it a variant because I don't know which came first (although Angau strikes me as older).

But to follow up a point which HW glosses over, above, with, "most often connected," I think it is worth reiterating that it is only fairly recently that we've become rigid about which words must be sung with which tunes. Ar Hyd y Nos is in one of the common popular metres in Welsh poetry so there are quite a few verses which, at one time (pre-Ceiriog), people would have felt free to sing to this tune. Similarly, there were a lot of tunes to this metre and you could sing, "Holl amrantau" to those if you felt so inclined.

It's a freedom which we seem to have lost - more's the pity - to a large extent. (I think perhaps the first collection of folk songs in Wales to be published with words AND music was in 1844.) I don't think it was a particularly Welsh 'freedom'. In fact, the one place where the practice still seems to survive is in Christmas carols in England, taking "While Shepherds Watched" as a case in point. And in Wales, different denominations and congregations differ in their combination of tunes and words - as in Canada, and presumably elsewhere.

There's a new young folk group just getting started in Wales and they asked me for something 'different' to sing, so I found a nice tune and a few suitable old verses that 'fit'. It took a lot for me to convince them that it DIDN'T MATTER that the two could not be found, married up and pre-packaged, in an existing collection. Anyway, I won, and I think it may be on their first album coming out in October.

The reason I bring this up is that I don't want people to think that "All Through the Night", with specific words, always came as a package.