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An 'English' Lady among Welsh Folk: Ruth Herbert Lewis and the Welsh Folk-Song Society

by Dr E. Wyn James

School of Welsh, Cardiff University


First published in Ian Russell & David Atkinson (eds), Folk Song: Tradition, Revival, and Re-Creation (Aberdeen: The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, 2004), pp. 266–83. ISBN 0 9545682 0 6.


This article is based on a paper delivered at ‘Folksong: Tradition and Revival’, an international conference to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Folk-Song Society, held at the University of Sheffield, England, 10–12 July 1998.


Copyright © E. Wyn James, 2004, 2009



The Welsh Folk-Song Society was launched during the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Caernarfon in 1906 – eight years after the founding of the Folk-Song Society in England, and two years after its Irish counterpart.[1] Fortunately, that event did not signal the beginnings of Welsh folk song collecting, since that activity can be traced back to the pioneer work of that wayward genius, Edward Williams (1747–1826), more commonly known by his bardic name, ‘Iolo Morganwg’, who – under the influence of the love of his native Glamorgan, not to mention laudanum – rewrote the history of Welsh literature and letters with Glamorgan very much centre-stage, thereby creating a magnificent tapestry out of which scholars to this day have found it impossible wholly to unravel the fact and the fiction.[2]


Iolo Morganwg began noting folk songs in his manuscripts from around 1795 onwards, probably inspired by the example of Robert Burns in Scotland. As regards folk song collecting, therefore, the Celts seem to have been in the field before the English! The nineteenth century saw some sporadic gathering of Welsh folk songs under the influence of various patriotic, antiquarian, and Romantic movements, Maria Jane Williams’s Ancient National Airs of Gwent and Morganwg (1844) being the most notable result. Some hundred or so folk songs were collected and published in this rather haphazard fashion prior to the twentieth century; but one has to wait until the formation of the Welsh Folk-Song Society for the task to begin in earnest and in a fairly systematic and scientific manner.[3]


In what follows, we concentrate on the contribution of one of the stalwarts of that Society during the first half of the twentieth century, namely Ruth Herbert Lewis (1871–1946), a woman – and an ‘Englishwoman’ at that – whose contribution in this field is still acknowledged by the fact that the chief competition for individual folk singers at the annual National Eisteddfod of Wales is named after her: ‘The Lady Herbert Lewis Memorial Competition’.


In her case, it would be true (if not politically correct!) to say that ‘behind every good woman there is a good man’. The ‘good man’ in question was Sir John Herbert Lewis (1858–1933), whom she married in 1897.[4] John Herbert Lewis was born at Mostyn in Flintshire, in the north-east corner of Wales, but spent much of his life in the old family home, Penucha, at nearby Caerwys. He was fairly closely related to one of the most prominent Welsh Calvinistic Methodist leaders of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Thomas Jones ‘of Denbigh’;[5] and he was also possibly related to the well-known author and academic C. S. Lewis, whose great-great-grandfather, Richard Lewis, had been born in Flintshire around 1775.[6]


Herbert Lewis was the son of a successful Victorian businessman and entrepreneur. Although not of the aristocracy, his well-to-do, middle-class upbringing afforded him a good education (including a degree from Oxford University) and allowed him to travel widely – he had literally travelled around the world by the age of twenty-six. A devout Christian, he had strong radical sympathies. After practising for some years as a lawyer, he was elected Liberal MP for his native Flintshire in 1892 and became one of the most prominent figures in Welsh political, cultural, and educational circles during the first quarter of the twentieth century.


One of the most remarkable features of Welsh life down the ages has been the regular renewal of Welsh national consciousness from generation to generation, despite close proximity to England and the strong forces for Anglicisation that have been at work over many centuries.[7] The 1880s witnessed one such spell of renewal, expressed more especially in the movement known as Cymru Fydd (‘Young Wales’), a cultural and political movement closely linked to the Liberal and Nonconformist establishment of the day, which could boast the young David Lloyd George as one of its rising stars. Although it floundered in the 1890s and failed in its ultimate objective of Home Rule for Wales, Cymru Fydd created the impetus that led to the establishment of a number of key Welsh national institutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including a national federal University of Wales, a National Museum, and a National Library.[8] Herbert Lewis was prominent both in the Cymru Fydd movement and in the establishment of these national institutions; and while it is important to remember the strong English and Irish connections which characterised the Welsh Folk-Song Society from its outset, and to emphasise its place in an international growth of interest in folk songs and folk culture, the Welsh Folk-Song Society must be regarded primarily as an indigenous phenomenon, a part of the same tide of national consciousness that witnessed the creation of the Welsh national university, library and museum.[9]


Another characteristic of Welsh cultural life is that intellectual movements tend to be rather late in arriving in any strength, and are consequently very susceptible to undergoing quite radical transformations during the process of their assimilation into Welsh culture. Romanticism is a case in point. Although one can trace Romantic influences on Welsh cultural and literary life from the second half of the eighteenth century onwards, Romanticism does not really permeate Welsh culture in any great force until the late nineteenth century, when it combines with the patriotic renewal embodied by Cymru Fydd, together with a new emphasis on classicism in expression, to create a late flowering of Romanticism with a peculiarly Welsh character. One important aspect of this Romantic movement, partly under the influence of John Ruskin and William Morris, was the exalting of the ‘common people’ of Wales – y werin – as the preservers and promoters of everything good in Welsh national life and culture. A cameo that vividly illustrates this has been preserved in a description of Herbert Lewis and three fellow holidaymakers interspersing jokes and the singing of Welsh folk songs with readings from Ruskin’s work while climbing in the Pyrenees in October 1893.[10]


A third strand in the background to the formation of the Welsh Folk-Song Society is the rapid social change, especially in the realms of industrialisation and Anglicisation, that increasingly characterised Victorian Wales. This spawned a growing interest in ‘bye-gones’ and a desire to record a disappearing way of life, a desire that was heightened by the increasing awareness of the passing of the old century and the dawning of the new.[11] Flintshire itself provides a good illustration, since it was not only an important industrial area in the nineteenth century but is also a border area. As such, the county has experienced much linguistic and cultural change and cross-fertilisation, of both a positive and a negative nature, over the centuries, and it saw significant Anglicisation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the 68 per cent Welsh-speaking majority of 1891 reduced to a minority of 49 per cent by 1901.[12]


These three strands – patriotism, Romanticism and antiquarianism – provided the chief forces behind the formation of the Welsh Folk-Song Society, and were also key motivators in John Herbert Lewis’s own life in general.


Herbert Lewis had initially married in the mid-1880s into an influential family of Welsh publishers, Hughes & Son of Wrexham. However, his first wife died in 1895 and two years later, in 1897, he married Ruth, the daughter of the Liberal MP, W. S. Caine (1842–1903), a staunch advocate of temperance and (under the influence of William Morris and his circle) a keen patron of the fine arts. Although she is usually described as an Englishwoman, even by her own son,[13] Ruth was in fact of Manx extraction on both sides of her family, hence the inverted commas around the word ‘English’ in our title.[14]


Ruth Caine was brought up in Liverpool, and then, from 1880, in London. She was well educated, ultimately studying at Cambridge (although she was unable to obtain a degree from that university, since its regulations at the time prevented women from graduating, and instead received a University of Dublin MA). Underpinning all of John Herbert Lewis’s other convictions was his deep Christian commitment; and Ruth, although very different in character and background from her husband, shared his strong religious convictions and was to be active all her life in religious, temperance, and philanthropic movements. Her marriage gave her the financial freedom to pursue these various activities, but it also channelled them into a context that was mainly Welsh.


It is not uncommon, of course, to see outsiders coming into a country, collecting its folk songs, and taking an interest in its folk culture and traditions, and, indeed, in other aspects of its life and culture.[15] However, Ruth Lewis did not merely interest herself in Welsh life and culture, she positively immersed herself in them. She learned Welsh and became a prominent figure in the public, cultural, and religious life of Wales in general, and of the north-east in particular, until her death in 1946.[16] Although she is best remembered for her pioneer work in collecting and publishing Welsh folk songs and as a key participant in the Welsh Folk-Song Society, her contribution to Welsh life was much wider.


Ruth and Herbert Lewis had two children, Kitty and Mostyn,[17] both of whom were raised as Welsh-speakers and both of whom in turn were to follow in their mother’s footsteps as President of the Welsh Folk-Song Society. Since Herbert Lewis’s work as an MP demanded that he spend much time in London, the Lewises ran two homes. Their Flintshire home, Penucha, became an important centre of Welsh culture in north-east Wales and was to remain so, under various members of their family, throughout the twentieth century. Their London home also became a magnet for Welsh cultural and religious activities, and they played a full role in the influential London Welsh community of the day, especially in the life of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist chapel at Charing Cross (a building which, having been converted into a nightclub, now supports a rather different form of popular culture).


Although both Ruth Lewis and her husband were among the earliest members of the Welsh Folk-Song Society,[18] neither Sir Herbert nor Lady Lewis, as they became known after he had been knighted in 1922, were among the actual founders of the Society. However, her interest in folk song was soon to be fired by one of the Society’s earliest enthusiasts, the indefatigable Mary Davies (1855–1930).[19] This led to her being drawn into the centre of the movement’s activities at an early stage in the Society’s development, and to her becoming one of the band of women collectors and activists surrounding ‘the grand old man of the [folk song] movement’, Dr J. Lloyd Williams (1854–1945).[20] Ruth Herbert Lewis began collecting folk songs in 1910 and her main period of collecting seems to have been between that date and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.[21] Subsequently, her energies were channeled into the war effort – she ran an all-night canteen for soldiers near Victoria station in London during the war – and although there is some evidence of her collecting folk songs in later periods she does not seem to have re-engaged actively in that work after the war ended in 1918. Indeed, she often comments in her letters and papers that the folk song movement had begun just in time, since many of the ‘old singers’ had died fairly soon afterwards. Nevertheless she was to remain prominent in folk song circles throughout the remainder of her life. She lectured, corresponded, and published regularly on the subject, and served as Secretary of the Welsh Folk-Song Society from 1914 to 1924 and Chair from 1927 to 1930, becoming President on Mary Davies’s death in 1930 until her own death in 1946. ‘Whether as Secretary or as President,’ said her son, Mostyn, ‘she ruled that society with a rod of iron’;[22] and in the 1930s and 1940s she played a pivotal role in keeping the Society’s flag flying in what were difficult years for it.


Ruth Lewis’s folk song collecting started in earnest in the late summer of 1910 when she purchased a portable Edison phonograph.[23] After experimenting on her children, she discovered that Robert Jones, the husband of her washerwoman, Lucy, knew an old traditional Welsh carol and was prepared to sing it into the machine. Here is Dr Mostyn Lewis’s account of the occasion in September 1910:


One of the most vivid recollections of my childhood was when my mother collected her first folk song. It was in the cottage of Robert Jones, the husband of my mother’s daily help. On the table was the little phonograph with its wax cylinder and small aluminium horn. She warned him to keep his nose away from the horn and then he sang that beautiful carol ‘O deued bob Cristion.’ The great moment had now arrived when Mr. Jones would hear his own voice – it came full and clear ‘No, I must not touch my nose in it.’[24]


Most of her collecting was done in the fairly near vicinity of her home, but she would also venture further afield in Flintshire and west into the hills of Denbighshire. Her normal mode of transport for such excursions was her little governess cart drawn by her pony, Seren (‘Star’), and she would often take her children along for the trip. There was one memorable occasion at Trefnant, about six miles from home, when a singer was late and snow began to set in heavily, causing great tension between her duty as a parent to hurry home and her duty as a folk song collector to stay and finish recording.[25] She made one notable field trip to south-west Wales in the summer of 1913, but apart from that almost all of her collecting was in the north-east. Some thirty-three phonograph cylinders, the fruits of these forays in north-east and south-west Wales (together with some Indian material collected on a visit in 1923–24 to the subcontinent where her daughter was a missionary),[26] are deposited in St Fagans: National History Museum, Cardiff, and a similar number have survived in the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) Collection in the British Library Sound Archive.


In addition to material that appeared from time to time in the Journal of the Welsh Folk-Song Society, Ruth Herbert Lewis published two volumes of folk songs.[27] The first, Folk-Songs Collected in Flintshire and the Vale of Clwyd by Mrs. Herbert Lewis, M.A. (1914), contained twelve songs, ten in Welsh and two in English.[28] The other, entitled Second Collection of Welsh Folk-Songs Collected by Lady Herbert Lewis, comprised seven songs, all in Welsh. It was published in 1934, twenty years after the first collection, but the material included was collected in 1913. Sixteen of these nineteen songs were collected in north-east Wales. The tunes in the first collection were transcribed from the phonograph cylinders and provided with accompaniments by a prominent young Welsh musician of the day, the exotic and enigmatic Morfydd Owen, whose tragic death in 1918, less than a month before her twenty-seventh birthday, was, in Ruth Lewis’s own words, ‘a great loss to Welsh music’.[29] Ruth herself did not approve of elaborate accompaniments since, in her opinion, folk songs should as a rule be sung unaccompanied. She did, however, agree to publish accompaniments in her collections as a concession to ‘the more feeble modern singer’, but insisted that they be very simple, much to the consternation of Morfydd Owen.[30]


Ruth Lewis was not without her problems and limitations as a folk song collector. She was not a musician herself – ‘I knew little of music,’ she said of her early days as a collector, ‘but was very fond of a good tune’[31] – and consequently she had to depend on others to transcribe the tunes. Although she learned Welsh, she never became fully fluent and had to have help to write down the words as well as the music. Neither did poor phonograph recordings help in such matters. Again, her strong convictions regarding temperance, together with the fact that she was a woman, prevented her from spending evenings in public houses with potential singers (as did Dr J. Lloyd Williams). Furthermore, her own religious convictions, together with those of her husband, as well as his standing in society, led to her suppressing publication of verses she deemed ‘unfit for polite society’.[32] Her wealth and social status should in theory have been barriers to her effectiveness as a folk song collector; however, the fact that she had made an effort to learn Welsh helped bridge the gap between herself and the common people. She also worked her social connections skilfully in order to engineer introductions to singers, and would use all sorts of wiles to gain their co-operation. For example, she would regularly bribe her main informant, Jane Williams, a near ninety-year-old resident at the local workhouse in Holywell, with snuff and tea; and old Jane Williams for her part would tell her, ‘My dear, if you would only take snuff you will have as good a voice and eye sight as I have.’[33]


What of the material that Ruth Lewis collected? It forms a wide-ranging corpus of about fifty items, varied in both subject and metre. Almost all are in Welsh. Humour and love are well represented, as are ballads and carols. A sample of three songs must suffice here to represent her fieldwork findings.


‘Cadi Ha’

Among the items noted by Ruth Lewis were the words and music of a song linked to the traditional May Day celebrations of Flintshire, the ‘Cadi Ha’ (literally ‘Summer Katie’), a custom especially popular among colliers and probably related to the morris dancing of Lancashire and Cheshire. Although the details varied from place to place and time to time, in essence the celebrations consisted of a company of about a dozen men, dressed in white and with coloured ribbons tied to their arms, ‘dancing the summer in’. They frequently blackened their faces and waved white handkerchiefs or green or flowering branches, and some of the company would often be dressed as women. Usually, one of their number would carry a cangen haf (‘summer branch’), a garland splendidly decorated with ribbons and items of silver, which acted as a sort of peripatetic maypole. The central character in the celebrations was the Cadi (a man dressed either as a woman or else partly male, partly female), who would carry a ladle with which to collect money and would threaten those who were reluctant to contribute, often with a brush. Sometimes, in Punch and Judy fashion, ‘she’ would be accompanied by her husband, the Fool, who would carry the ladle, and sometimes the garland, while she threatened people with the brush.[34]


Ruth Lewis noted the song from the singing of the master of the Holywell workhouse, where her main informant, Jane Williams, was a resident. Only one verse was noted. It is reproduced here with a metrical English translation:


            Hwp, ha wen!

            Cadi ha, Morus stowt,

            Dros yr ychle’n neidio;

            Hwp, dena fo!

            A chynffon buwch a chynffon llo,

            A chynffon Richard Parri fo;

            Hwp, dena fo!



            Hoop, ha wen!

            Cadi ha, Morris stout,

            For the highest leaping;

            Hoop, that will do!

            And tail of cow and tail of calf,

            The blacksmith Richard Parry’s too;

            Hoop, that will do![35]


Soon after it was published in 1930 it was made into an action song for children. It was given a new lease of life in the 1980s after featuring on a cassette of children’s songs, Hwyl Wrth Ganu (‘Having Fun Singing’), recorded in 1979 by the popular group, Mynediad am Ddim (literally ‘Free Admission’), for the Welsh-medium nursery schools movement, Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, and also after being included in a collection of folk songs for children, Caneuon Gwerin i Blant, edited by Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans and published by the Welsh Folk-Song Society in 1981.[36]


‘Marwnad Lowri Lew’

A rather remarkable coincidence surrounds the next item. The song, ‘Marwnad Lowri Lew’ (‘Lowri Lew’s Elegy’), was originally part of a rustic Welsh folk play or anterliwt (‘interlude’), Tri Chryfion Byd (‘The World’s Three Mighty Ones’, namely Love, Poverty and Death), written by the great master of that genre, Thomas Edwards (‘Twm o’r Nant’; 1739–1810), and first published in 1789.[37] Both the Fool and the Miser are stock characters in these eighteenth-century folk plays, which were especially popular in north-east Wales. One of the characteristics of these metrical plays is that the spoken verse is interspersed with eight or nine songs in popular Welsh ballad metres, and the songs sometimes came to have a life of their own separate from their original context.[38] The song under consideration here is a case in point, since it started life as a comic elegy sung in the play by the Fool on the death of the Miser’s mother;[39] but it was obviously being performed independently long after the demise of the interlude as a genre in the first half of the nineteenth century.


In December 1911, on one of her trips into the Denbighshire hills, Ruth Lewis visited her washerwoman’s father, Isaac Jones (1829–1913). He is a good example of the way in which she used her contacts in order to secure performances from her informants. Isaac Jones had refused to sing for some students from Bangor. However, Ruth Lewis took his son-in-law with her, and old Isaac agreed to sing for her because she had been introduced to him correctly and because he knew Ruth’s husband and her brother-in-law (his Member of Parliament, J. Herbert Roberts, who lived in nearby Abergele). Ruth Lewis comments that her washerwoman was justly proud of her father’s performance. Among the items he sang for Ruth Lewis were some songs from Twm o’r Nant’s interludes. Isaac Jones was aged eighty-two at the time, and although he had not seen Twm’s interludes himself he had known old people who had done so. To Ruth Lewis, these were ‘not folksongs, but folk tunes’, but fortunately this did not prevent her from collecting ‘Marwnad Lowri Lew’.[40]


By a strange coincidence, in 1973, Robin Gwyndaf of St Fagans: National History Museum recorded Isaac Jones’s grandson, Robert Pierce Roberts (1889–1986), then aged eighty-four, singing sixteen songs, including two from Twm o’r Nant’s interlude, Tri Chryfion Byd, which he had learnt from his grandfather, namely ‘Marwnad Lowri Lew’, together with another song the performance of which is no mean feat since it is a long listing, in eight verses, of occupations that people engaged in in order to avoid poverty. Recordings of Robert Pierce Roberts singing both of these songs were included on the eleventh in a series of cassettes published by St Fagans: National History Museum.[41] They represent performances of those songs that are only three generations removed from their first performance in the late eighteenth century.


‘O! deued pob Cristion’

Possibly the most frequently sung of all the items collected by Ruth Lewis is the very first she ever recorded, namely the traditional Welsh carol ‘O! deued pob Cristion / I Fethlem yr awron’ (‘O! come every Christian to Bethlehem now’), sung into her new phonograph by her washerwoman’s husband, Robert Jones, at his cottage at Croeswïan, Caerwys in September 1910. Traditional Welsh Christmas carols, or plygain carols as they are normally termed,[42] are a world apart from the ‘Silent Night’ variety. Rather than concentrating on the Christmas story itself, they are long sermons in song, centring on Christ’s atonement on the cross, exhorting to repentance, faith, and godly living, and often encompassing the whole of the redemption story from Adam’s Fall in the Garden of Eden to the joys of heaven. Erik Routley has said of them that they are ‘as foreign to modern English protestant culture as anything from farther away’.[43] They flourished, especially in north-east Wales, from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, and the tradition of holding plygain carol services has survived unbroken in the Montgomeryshire/Shropshire border area to the present day.[44]


When the carol was first published, in the Journal of the Welsh Folk-Song Society in 1919, it was noted that ‘several Caerwys people remember their fathers singing this carol’.[45] However, it is evident that the words of the carol at least had been forgotten by Robert Jones’s generation since he only remembered one verse, and that in a rather garbled form. Another carol, ‘Roedd yn y wlad honno’ (‘There was in that country’), collected by Ruth Lewis, this time in 1913 from a weaver in Llansannan in the Denbighshire hills, was published in the same issue of the Journal;[46] and it so happens that its tune is related to that of ‘O! deued pob Cristion’, although the words are quite different. Both carols were then included in Y Caniedydd Cynulleidfaol Newydd, the new denominational hymn book of the Union of Welsh Independents which was published in 1921. For their inclusion in that book, the tunes were harmonized by a leading Welsh musician of the day, Dr Caradog Roberts (1878–1935), and in the case of ‘O! deued pob Cristion’ the words were anonymously ‘improved’ and a second verse added.[47]


Caradog Robert’s arrangements of both carols were subsequently included in The Oxford Book of Carols (1928), where ‘O! deued pob Cristion’ is no. 34, entitled ‘Poverty’. Welsh words were not included. Instead, English words by Mrs Katherine Emily Roberts (1877–1962) were supplied, based on the first verse of the original. Their opening line is ‘All poor men and humble’, and they are described as ‘A free translation of the Welsh Carol “O Deued Pob Cristion”.’ In fact they bear little relation to the Welsh.[48] A somewhat closer translation of the first verse is to be found in The National Songs of Wales (1959), by the literary editor of that volume, A. G. Prys-Jones (1888–1987):


            Come all Christians, singing,

            Our glad praises bringing

                   In thanks for the gift of God’s love:

            With hearts full of yearning

            To Bethlehem turning,

                  We worship with angels above.

            The Lord of Creation

            Has given each nation

                  Salvation from sorrow and sin;

            Through Jesus so Holy,

            Now cradled so lowly,

                  For God found no room at the inn.

            Kneel down to the Child there,

            And Mary so mild there,

                  For Godhead by this Babe is borne;

            So evil forsaking,

            And grace humbly taking,

                  Proclaim we our Saviour this morn.[49]


In some form or another, ‘O! deued pob Cristion’ has found its way into numerous hymn books and carol collections since it was collected by Ruth Herbert Lewis in 1910, and has become one of the most frequently sung and best loved of all Welsh carols. The irony, however, is that the ‘glorious’ tune[50] of this most popular of Welsh carols, the first ‘Welsh’ tune to be recorded by this ‘English’ lady, actually belongs to the same family of tunes as the ‘English’ national anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’![51]



I wish to thank Mr D. Roy Saer, formerly of St Fagans: National History Museum, Cardiff, for reading an earlier draft of this paper and for his valuable comments.



Note on manuscript repositories

Sir J. Herbert Lewis’s papers are at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth and at the Flintshire Record Office, Hawarden. Lady Herbert Lewis’s papers are to be found in the archives of St Fagans: National History Museum, Cardiff (formerly known as the Welsh Folk Museum and subsequently the Museum of Welsh Life). The papers of their daughter, Kitty Idwal Jones, are at the National Library of Wales, as are the papers of the Welsh Folk-Song Society and those of its first editor, Dr J. Lloyd Williams. I wish to thank the staff of these three repositories for their help during my researches.




[1] Some sources state that the Society was formed in 1908. This is because, while the decision to launch a Welsh folk song society was taken at a meeting held under the auspices of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion during the National Eisteddfod at Caernarfon in 1906, the first General Meeting of the Society was not held until the National Eisteddfod at Llangollen in September 1908. See [J. Lloyd Williams], ‘The History of the Welsh Folk-Song Society’, Journal of the Welsh Folk-Song Society [= JWFSS], 3:2 (1934), pp.92–4; Souvenir Programme: Jubilee Celebrations [of the] Welsh Folk-Song Society (Welsh Folk-Song Society, 1958), pp.5, 7; Meredydd Evans, ‘Dechreuadau Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru’, Canu Gwerin (Folk Song), 29 (2006), pp.3–19.

[2] For comprehensive introductions in English to the life and work of Iolo Morganwg, see Ceri W. Lewis, ‘Iolo Morganwg’, in A Guide to Welsh Literature c.1700–1800, ed. Branwen Jarvis (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), chapter 7; Prys Morgan, Iolo Morganwg, ‘Writers of Wales’ series (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1975); Geraint H. Jenkins (ed.), A Rattleskull Genius: The Many Faces of Iolo Morganwg (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005).

[3] The history of the Welsh Folk-Song Society is outlined in D. Roy Saer’s bilingual illustrated booklet, Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru/The Welsh Folk-Song Society 1908-1983 (Welsh Folk-Song Society, 1985), a revised and expanded edition of which was published by the Society in 2006 under the title Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru: Canrif Gron/The Welsh Folk-Song Society: A Whole Century. See also [J. Lloyd Williams], ‘The History of the Welsh Folk-Song Society’, JWFSS, 3:2 (1934), pp.89–102; 3:3 (1937), pp.146–59, for a detailed history for the period down to 1930. Daniel Huws’s Welsh-language lecture, Caneuon Llafar Gwlad ac Iolo a’i Fath (Welsh Folk-Song Society, 1993), compares the folk song collecting of Iolo Morganwg, Robert Burns, and John Clare, while Maria Jane Williams’s folk song collecting is discussed in his 1988 edition of her Ancient National Airs of Gwent and Morganwg (1844). See also Wyn Thomas, Traditional Music in Wales: Bibliography, third ed. (Llanrwst: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2006).

[4] On Sir John Herbert Lewis, see the Welsh-language volume, Syr Herbert Lewis 1858-1933 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1958), edited by his daughter, Kitty Idwal Jones; Timothy Peter Erasmus, ‘Herbert Lewis and Welsh Radicalism’ (unpublished University of Wales PhD thesis, 1989); J. Graham Jones, ‘Advice from a Friend: D. Lloyd George, Sir John Herbert Lewis and the Aftermath of the Political Crisis of 1931’, National Library of Wales Journal, 30:3 (Summer 1998), pp.323–39.

[5] Thomas Jones (1756–1820) was born at Penucha, but lived in Denbigh from 1809 until his death, and is always referred to as ‘Thomas Jones of Denbigh’. Brief discussions of him in English are to be found in A. M. Allchin’s volumes, Praise Above All: Discovering the Welsh Tradition (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991), pp.30–3, and God’s Presence Makes the World: The Celtic Vision Through the Centuries in Wales (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1997), pp.76–82.

[6] Michael Boon, ‘Roots of Narnia’, Western Mail, 16 December 1998, p.13.

[7] The best one-volume introduction to the history of Wales from earliest times to the present day is John Davies’s monumental, A History of Wales, revised edition (London: Penguin Books, 2007). Good introductory volumes on Welsh history and culture have appeared in the University of Wales Press’s ‘Pocket Guide’ series: Trefor M. Owen, The Customs and Traditions of Wales (1991); Dafydd Johnston, The Literature of Wales (1994); J. Graham Jones, The History of Wales, second ed. (1998); Janet Davies, The Welsh Language (1999). The New Companion to the Literature of Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998), edited by Meic Stephens, contains a wealth of material for students of Welsh culture of all periods.

[8] On the political, cultural, and literary renaissance of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Wales, see (in English) Kenneth O. Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880–1980 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981); idem, Wales in British Politics 1868–1922 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1963); Dafydd Johnston (ed.), A Guide to Welsh Literature c.1900–1996 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998); and (in Welsh) Emyr Price, Lloyd George y Cenedlaetholwr Cymreig: Arwr ynteu Bradwr? (Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer, 1999); Alun Llywelyn-Williams, Y Nos, y Niwl a’r Ynys: Agweddau ar y Profiad Rhamantaidd yng Nghymru 1890–1914 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1960).

[9] Presumably referring especially to his own activities at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, in the early 1900s, Dr J. Lloyd Williams could say at the commencement of his article, ‘The History of the Welsh Folk-Song Society’, JWFSS, 3:2 (1934), p.89: ‘While many Welsh movements of the past have been inspired by corresponding English enterprises, the Folk Song movement was perfectly spontaneous in its origin. The first workers knew nothing of the esteem in which native folk music was held in other countries, and they took no interest in the study of the question.’ However, he proceeds to acknowledge that, ‘considerably later the Welsh Folk Song Society owed much, at its initiation, to the encouragement and assistance given to it by non-Welshmen’. He probably had in mind two Irishmen in particular, namely the Principal of the University College of North Wales, Bangor, Harry Reichel, and the author, Alfred Perceval Graves, a founder member of both the English and Irish folk song societies, who had a home near Harlech and had by 1906 begun ‘to agitate for the formation of a Welsh Folk Song Society’ (p. 92). The booklet, Papers read at Carnarvon, August 22nd, 1906, on Folk-Song, by A. P. Graves, Esq., and Principal H. R. Reichel, M.A., LL.D., with Draft of Constitution, Rules &c. of the Society (Caernarfon: Welsh Folk-Song Society, [1907]), states specifically in the introduction: ‘The idea of establishing a Welsh Folk-song Society originated with Mr. Alfred Perceval Graves, who has done so much for Irish, Welsh, and other Folk-songs, and Principal H. R. Reichel, M.A., LL.D., Bangor.’ On the inter-relationship of native and external influences, see also D. Roy Saer, The Welsh Folk-Song Society 1908-1983 (1985), pp.8–9; The Welsh Folk-Song Society: A Whole Century (2006), pp.43–5.

[10] On the development of the concept of y werin – the myth of the cultured and virtuous common people – see (in English) Prys Morgan, Background to Wales (Llandybïe: Christopher Davies, 1968), chapter 5; idem, ‘Keeping the Legends Alive’, in Wales: The Imagined Nation, ed. Tony Curtis (Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986), pp.34–41; and (in Welsh) idem, ‘Gwerin Cymru – Y Ffaith a’r Ddelfryd’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, Session 1967: Part 1, pp.117–31; Alun Llywelyn-Williams, Y Nos, y Niwl a’r Ynys (1960). The description of the friends singing Welsh folk songs in the Pyrenees is to be found in Kitty Idwal Jones (ed.), Syr Herbert Lewis (1958), pp.28–9; the one who read Ruskin aloud to the others was the prominent Liberal MP, T. E. Ellis (1859–99).

[11] Cf. Ruth Herbert Lewis’s preface to her first collection of folk songs, Folk-Songs Collected in Flintshire and the Vale of Clwyd (Wrexham: Hughes and Son, [1914]): ‘Many of these old songs are in danger of perishing […] Folksong collecting brings one into touch with some quaint and delightful old people; it takes one into beautiful places and brings one into association with a swiftly vanishing past’ (p.7).

[12] Dot Jones, Statistical Evidence Relating to the Welsh Language 1801–1911 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998), p.225.

[13] In his contribution to the Souvenir Programme: Jubilee Celebrations [of the] Welsh Folk-Song Society (1958), Dr Mostyn Lewis said of Ruth Lewis: ‘My mother was a very English Englishwoman who married a Welshman and who entered heart and soul into the life of her new nation. She learned Welsh – an unusual thing in those days – and grew to understand it perfectly, though I am afraid that she never mastered either the grammar or the pronunciation of the language’ (p.10). Compare her daughter’s comment: ‘Mother had learnt sufficient Welsh to follow a sermon, but she was no linguist, and her attempts to speak and write Welsh were the delight of her friends’ (Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’, Welsh Music, 5:5 (Spring 1977), p.38).

[14] On her mother’s side, Ruth Lewis was a granddaughter of the prominent Baptist preacher, Hugh Stowell Brown (1823–86), pastor of Myrtle Street Chapel, Liverpool. He was born at Douglas, Isle of Man, and was an elder brother of the Manx poet, Thomas Edward Brown (1830–97). A paper by Ruth Lewis, ‘Welsh and Manx Folk-Songs’, was read (in her absence) at the Fourth Celtic Congress, held at Douglas, Isle of Man, in July 1921; however (in the printed version at least) she made no reference to her Manx connections: see D. Rhys Phillips (ed.), Transactions of the Celtic Congress, 1921 (Swansea: Beili Glas, 1923), pp.164–7.

[15] Cf. the comment of Daniel Huws: ‘In keeping with a pattern common in relation to the preservation of traditional culture (Lady Llanover is a prime example), some of the most enthusiastic collectors of Welsh folk songs did not have entirely Welsh roots’ (‘Dr J. Lloyd Williams and Traditional Music’, Canu Gwerin (Folk Song), 6 (1983), p.42).

[16] See note 13. Strikingly, her elder sister, Hannah, also married a Welsh Liberal MP, learnt Welsh and became prominent in Welsh life. Hannah’s husband was J. Herbert Roberts (1863–1955), MP for West Denbighshire, and later Baron Clwyd of Abergele. He published an undated memorial volume for her, In Memoriam: Hannah Rushton Clwyd 1869–1951, which includes an essay entitled ‘Childhood and Early Days’ by another sister, Mrs W. S. Colman.

[17] Their full names were Alice Catherine (1898–1984) and Herbert Mostyn (1901–85).

[18] JWFSS, 1:1 (1909), pp.4–5, 12. Although it is she whom we connect especially with the Society, it should be remembered that Herbert Lewis took a keen interest in music and wrote a number of hymn-tunes. He chaired some of the early meetings of the Welsh Folk-Song Society and took an interest in his wife’s folk song collecting, including becoming one of her ‘informants’.

[19] On Dr Mary Davies, who became President of the Welsh Folk-Song Society in 1914, see Wyn Thomas, ‘Mary Davies – Grande Dame of Welsh Music’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 1997, vol. 4 (1998), pp.111–23. She is described by Lady Lewis’s daughter, Kitty Idwal Jones, as ‘charming, enthusiastic, generous, woolly and exasperating to her friends, but they all loved her, and as “Aunty Mary” she was known to young and old alike’ (‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), p.33). A cameo painted by Kitty Idwal Jones in the same article (p.37), which illustrates the enthusiasm of the early days of the folk song movement, is of Mary Davies singing a catchy folk song at a dinner given by J. Herbert Lewis in the House of Commons; everyone began clapping and David Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and another Welsh MP started dancing, much to the consternation of the head of the Civil Service who happened to put his head around the door!

[20] He was described thus by another of the prominent women in the Society’s history, Dora Herbert Jones; quoted in Wyn Thomas’s article, ‘Mary Davies – Grande Dame of Welsh Music’ (1998), p.112. Dora Herbert Jones (1890–1974) served for a time as secretary to J. Herbert Lewis and is reputed to be the first woman to have worked in the Houses of Parliament (Rhian Davies, Never So Pure a Sight. Morfydd Owen (1891–1918): A Life in Pictures (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 1994), p.60; Gwenan Gibbard, ‘Dora Herbert Jones, 1890–1974’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 2005, vol. 12 (2006), p.123). Dr J. Lloyd Williams, a botany lecturer, served as editor of the Society’s Journal, despite his attempts at resigning, from its inception in 1909 until his death in 1945. In looking back over the work of the Society down to 1930 he commented that ‘the movement, for several years, was essentially amateur in its inception and conduct, the number of professional musicians that supported it being surprisingly small’ and that ‘a great deal of the success of the Society has been due to the enthusiasm, insight, and business capacity of a number of lady workers’ (‘Editorial Notes’, JWFSS, 3:3 (1937), p.113).

[21] Ruth Herbert Lewis’s collecting activities are outlined (in English) in Kitty Idwal Jones’s article, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), which includes an account by her mother of a collecting tour in south-west Wales in 1913. See also (in Welsh) Aled Lloyd Davies’s lecture, Canu’r Werin yng Ngogledd-Ddwyrain Cymru (Welsh Folk-Song Society, 1998), which includes sketch maps of the places in which she collected folk songs in north-east Wales between 1910 and 1913, and Mary Roberts’s article, ‘Y Fonesig Ruth Lewis, Plas Penucha, Caerwys’, Llafar Gwlad, 33 (Summer 1991), pp.20–1, which includes a photograph of her phonograph.

[22] Souvenir Programme (1958), p.10.

[23] The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 following a conversation with Sir William H. Preece (1834–1913), a prominent electrical engineer and pioneer of wireless telegraphy, who was to become the first President of the Welsh Folk-Song Society. Preece presented an Edison phonograph to the Society in late 1908. Mary Davies brought it to the Lewises on one of her visits. Ruth Lewis, who had been puzzling how she could collect folk songs without being conversant with either tonic sol-fa or old notation, saw the phonograph as the answer to her problems and bought one herself (Wyn Thomas, ‘Mary Davies – Grande Dame of Welsh Music’ (1998),pp.116–17; Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), p.37). See also Wyn Thomas’s Welsh-language article on the phonograph and traditional music in Wales, ‘Y Ffonograff a Byd Cerddoriaeth Draddodiadol yng Nghymru’, Canu Gwerin (Folk Song), 29 (2006), pp.40–64.

[24] Souvenir Programme (1958), p.10; cf. Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), p.37.

[25] Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), pp.39–40. Her parental duty won the day!

[26] Several members of her family, including her father, W. S. Caine, and her brother-in-law, J. Herbert Roberts, had a strong interest and involvement in India. Letters sent home to Wales by J. Herbert Lewis during their visit to the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist mission field in north-east India in 1923–24 were published in volume form, Llythyrau o Lushai (Wrexham: Hughes and Son, 1928), with an appendix by Mostyn Lewis describing his visit to the Jaintia Hills in March 1923.

[27] W. S. Gwynn Williams selected 124 of the songs which appeared in the Journal of the Welsh Folk-Song Society between 1909 and 1959 – representing in his view ‘the cream of the Society’s recordings […] being among the most loved and vital of characteristic Welsh traditional songs’ – and published them in two volumes, Caneuon Traddodiadol y Cymry: Traditional Songs of the Welsh (Llangollen: Gwynn Publishing Co., 1961 and 1963). Ten of these had been collected by Ruth Lewis. She had included six of them in her two collections, but not numbers 28, 32, 41, and 121. Eight unpublished songs collected by Ruth Lewis, four from north-east Wales and four from south-west Wales, were published by Meredydd Evans in 2000: ‘Rhai Caneuon Anghyhoeddedig ym Mhapurau John Lloyd Williams’, Canu Gwerin (Folk Song), 23 (2000), pp.4–15.

[28] The book appeared in September 1914, just after the outbreak of war (Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘The Enigma of Morfydd Owen’, Welsh Music, 5:1 (Winter 1975/76), pp.15–16). As may be seen from a printer’s account reproduced in Rhian Davies, Never So Pure a Sight (1994), p.63, 1,500 copies were printed. In a letter to Dr J. Lloyd Williams dated 8 January 1915, Ruth Lewis says that nine hundred copies of the book were in circulation by then, about two hundred of which she had sent to friends (National Library of Wales, John Lloyd Williams MS 58). Six humorous sketches were provided by Ruth Lewis’s brother, William Caine, to illustrate the book. Their inclusion, she said in her preface, has ‘helped me to emphasise the fact that this is not intended to be a serious book’. The English songs are ‘The Little Gypsy Girl’ (‘My father was the king of the gypsies, I am sure’) and ‘Lovely Nancy’ (‘See ’ow the storm is risin’, and ’ow its comin’ on’). The first line of the second verse of ‘Lovely Nancy’ is ‘O you my lovely Nancy, one thousand times is due’, a variant of ‘Adieu, sweet lovely Nancy, ten thousand times adieu’. Both songs were noted from the singing of Mrs Jane Williams of Holywell, Lady Lewis’s main informant.

[29] See the preface to her second collection of folk songs. Morfydd Owen had helped with the transcription of the tunes for this second collection, and provided three of the seven accompaniments, before her untimely death. On Morfydd Owen and her connection with the Lewises, see Rhian Davies, Never So Pure a Sight (1994); Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘The Enigma of Morfydd Owen’ (1975/76), pp.9–21. Born in Glamorgan and educated at the University of Wales at Cardiff and the Royal Academy of Music in London, Morfydd claimed descent on her father’s side from William Williams of Pantycelyn, the great eighteenth-century Methodist hymn-writer, while on her mother’s side, she was reputed to have Spanish gypsy blood in her veins. Kitty Idwal Jones said of her: ‘Morfydd certainly inherited the piety of Williams and the flamboyance of the Spaniard’ (p.9), and she seemed equally at home among the respectable London Welsh of Charing Cross Chapel and a more Bohemian circle which included D. H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, and the prominent psychoanalyst, Ernest Jones (1879–1958), friend and biographer of Sigmund Freud, whom she married in February 1917 following a whirlwind romance.

[30] See Ruth Lewis’s comments on accompaniments in the preface to her 1914 collection and in a letter to Celia Evans (Johannesburg) dated 24 February 1940 among her manuscripts at St Fagans: National History Museum (MS 1468/29). Morfydd Owen’s original arrangements for the 1914 collection were far too difficult in Ruth Lewis’s opinion, and she requested they be made as simple as possible. The only one of the original arrangements included in the printed volume was a modal accompaniment to one of the songs, followed by a simpler minor accompaniment (Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘The Enigma of Morfydd Owen’ (1975/76), p.15). Morfydd said of the 1914 collection in a letter to a friend dated 20 December 1915: ‘Here is the silly book you asked for – the only accompaniment which is any good is Angau [‘Death’, the modal arrangement] – I was allowed to do that one as I wanted – a concession!!’ (Rhian Davies, Never So Pure a Sight (1994), p.64). Grace Gwyneddon Davies (1879–1944), another of the band of Welsh women folk song collectors which surrounded Dr J. Lloyd Williams, completed the work of arranging the songs for Ruth Lewis’s 1934 collection after Morfydd Owen’s death. However, she also did not see eye to eye with Ruth Lewis on the matter of arrangements (see Wyn Thomas’s Welsh-language lecture, Meistres ‘Graianfryn’ a Cherddoriaeth Frodorol yng Nghymru (Welsh Folk-Song Society, 1999), p.17; cf. pp. 12, 27 n.36); and according to Lady Lewis’s son, Mostyn, ‘The only thing on which [my mother] quarrelled with her great friend, Dr. Lloyd Williams, was that he made four-part arrangements of folk songs’ (Souvenir Programme (1958), p.11).

[31] In a letter to Celia Evans (Johannesburg) dated 18 March 1940 (St Fagans: National History Museum MS 1468/30).

[32] See, for example, Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), pp.39, 40; Meredydd Evans, ‘Rhai Caneuon Anghyhoeddedig ym Mhapurau John Lloyd Williams’ (2000), pp.10, 14.

[33] St Fagans: National History Museum MS 1468/30; Kitty Idwal Jones, ‘Adventures in Folk-Song Collecting’ (1977), pp.38–9. Kitty Idwal Jones says of Jane Williams: ‘She was an intelligent old lady and soon became used to the phonograph. She produced a wealth of songs in Welsh and English, which she remembered from her mother and grandmother, had heard at markets and fairs, and had learnt from travellers and sailors and ballad singers’ (p.38). Jane’s sister Hannah, who had unfortunately died before Ruth Lewis discovered Jane, also had ‘a wealth of songs at her command’. In all, six of the nineteen songs published in Ruth Lewis’s two collections of folk songs were collected from the singing of her ‘old friend’, Jane Williams, who ‘because she is nearly ninety years of age, and being unable to read or write,’ says Ruth Lewis, ‘remembers the things of long ago better than those of to-day’ (see the prefaces to her collections of 1914 and 1934). ‘Old Jane at the workhouse is no end pleased with being “mewn print” [in print]’, wrote Ruth Lewis to J. Lloyd Williams on 8 January 1915, following the publication of five of her songs in Ruth Lewis’s first collection (National Library of Wales, John Lloyd Williams MS 58). Ruth Lewis dedicated that collection to Mary Davies, ‘who first introduced me to the folk-song, and to whose encouragement this collection is due, and to Mrs. Jane Williams, of Holywell, whose store of songs convinced me that a collection could be made within easy distance of my home’.

[34] On the ‘Cadi Ha’, see Trefor M. Owen, Welsh Folk Customs (Cardiff: National Museum of Wales, 1959), pp.101–8; idem, The Customs and Traditions of Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991), pp.70, 71–2 ; W. S. Gwynn Williams, Welsh National Music and Dance (London: J. Curwen & Sons, [1932]), pp.113–17; Hugh Mellor, Welsh Folk Dances (London: Novello and Company, 1935), pp.11–12, 16–21, 59–61; and (in Welsh) Beryl Davies, ‘Cadi Ha’, Llafar Gwlad, 33 (Summer 1991), pp.4–6. In recent years, a ‘Cadi Ha Festival’ has been an annual event in Holywell.

[35] The Welsh version is to be found in JWFSS, 3:1 (1930), p.69; the English translation was published in W. S. Gwynn Williams,Traditional Songs of the Welsh, vol. 2 (1963), p.161, where it is attributed to ‘G.J.W.’; see also Loïs Blake and Grace Williams, Cadi Ha (Llangollen: Gwynn Publishing Co., 1939). There are two textual revisions which probably should be made to the Welsh. A variant of line three, supplied by Jane Williams, reads ‘Am yr ychla i neidio’ (i.e. ‘Jumping for the highest’), whereas the line as noted in the workhouse master’s version, ‘Dros yr ychle’n neidio’ is best translated ‘Jumping over the highest’. In line six, a better reading for ‘Richard Parry fo’ (i.e. ‘him, Richard Parry’) would be ‘Richard Parry’r go’ (i.e. ‘Richard Parry the blacksmith’). The ‘dena’ in lines 4 and 7 is a colloquial form of the adverb ‘dyna’ (‘there, behold’). In a note appended to this song in JWFSS, Anne Gilchrist comments that the refrain ‘Hwp, dena fo!’ is reminiscent of the Manx Hollantide song-refrain, ‘Hop! ta’n oie!’ ‘Hwp’ in Welsh means ‘a push up’ or ‘a lift forward’, possibly derived from the English ‘up’.

[36] The 1930 issue of JWFSS also included (p.72) a variant of the tune with two verses (one a variant of that noted by Ruth Lewis from the workhouse master’s singing and the other focusing on the ladle carried as part of the custom) which an R. Mills had heard in Mostyn in May 1899. However, while the verse about the ladle sometimes occurs as a second verse, it has not had the same popular currency as the workhouse master’s verse. Also in the 1930 issue of JWFSS are a number of other items supplied by Ruth Lewis relating to the ‘Cadi Ha’ (pp.69–74): a variant of the workhouse master’s verse from Jane Williams, who remembered the words but no tune; a variant of the verse on the ladle, to a different tune, which Ruth Lewis noted from the singing of her husband, who had heard it at Mostyn when a boy; a dance tune for the ‘Cadi Ha’ played at Holywell in 1912 by Wil Fidler (who was also an informant of Maud Karpeles; Anne Gilchrist in an appended note describes the tune as ‘a somewhat garbled form’ of a well-known Lancashire morris tune); and correspondence between Ruth Lewis and Cecil Sharp in 1917 relating to the custom.

[37] On these folk plays, and Twm o’r Nant in particular, see Dafydd Glyn Jones, ‘The Interludes’, in A Guide to Welsh Literature c.1700–1800, ed. Branwen Jarvis (2000), chapter 10.

[38] See Phyllis Kinney, ‘Welsh Ballad Tunes’, and Rhiannon Ifans, ‘The Ballad in Eighteenth-Century Welsh Drama’, in Ballads in Wales, ed. Mary-Ann Constantine (London: FLS Books, 1999).

[39] Dr J. Lloyd Williams comments on the song: ‘It belongs to the class of “patter” songs, and the long list of farm and house duties, and of the many farm animals that lament the loss of her anxious care, lends itself truly to this class of song’ (JWFSS, 3:1 (1930), p.43).

[40] St Fagans: National History Museum MS 1468/30; JWFSS, 3:1 (1930), pp.42–3.

[41] Y Wasgod Goch: Caneuon Llafar Gwlad Robert Pierce Roberts, Llanddulas (Cardiff: Museum of Welsh Life, 1995).

[42] ‘Plygain’ refers to the early morning church service with which these carols were originally associated; it derives from the Latin pullicantiō (‘cock crow’).

[43] Quoted in Alan Luff, ‘A Welsh Carol and Its Consequences’, in Duty and Delight: Routley Remembered, ed. Robin A. Leaver and James H. Litton (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1985), p.103.

[44] On the plygain carols, see Rhiannon Ifans, ‘Folk Poetry and Diversions’, in A Guide to Welsh Literature c.1700–1800, ed. Branwen Jarvis (2000), pp.187–9; Phyllis Kinney, ‘The Tunes of the Welsh Christmas Carols’, Canu Gwerin (Folk Song), 11 (1988), pp.28–57, 12 (1989), pp.5–29; D. Roy Saer, ‘The Christmas Carol-Singing Tradition in the Tanad Valley’, Folk Life, 7 (1969), pp.15–42. A record entitled Carolau Plygain/Plygain Carols, edited with an accompanying booklet by D. Roy Saer, and containing thirteen recordings from the sound archives of St Fagans: National History Museum of parties singing plygain carols, was first published by the recording company Sain in 1977, and is now available on CD. The booklet includes English translations side by side with the original Welsh words.

[45] JWFSS, 2:2 (1919), pp.127–8.

[46] JWFSS, 2:2 (1919), pp.128–9. It was also included in Lady Lewis’s second collection of folk-songs in 1934.

[47] In 1985, Alan Luff said that he had not been able to find the original carol, but went on to say: ‘This does not however mean that they were not, as usual, written by a village poet and printed in a pamphlet which may yet come to light’ (‘A Welsh Carol and Its Consequences’ (1985), p.108). He has been proved right, since in the mid-1990s I came across it in a collection of hymns, carols, and elegies by one Jane Ellis, a member of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist cause in Mold, Flintshire. The seventy-two-page book is entitled Casgliad o Hymnau, Carolau, a Marwnadau, and was published in Mold in 1840. In the original, the carol has six verses, and it is apparent that Robert Jones in his garbled version was remembering parts of the first verse in the wrong order, to which he added a couplet from the second verse.

[48] The carol ‘Roedd yn y wlad honno’ is no. 59 in The Oxford Book of Carols (‘Awake they were only, those shepherds so lonely’), and is entitled ‘Welsh Carol’. Again, the Welsh words are not supplied. The English words are once more by Mrs K. E. Roberts and are described as ‘A paraphrase of the Welsh Carol, “Roedd yn y wlad honno”. ’ There is a little more resemblance to the Welsh here than in the case of ‘O! deued pob Cristion’, but it is still a very free translation.

[49] E. T. Davies, Sydney Northcote and A. G. Prys-Jones, Caneuon Cenedlaethol Cymru: The National Songs of Wales (London: Boosey & Hawkes, [1959]), pp.128–9. The arrangement of the tune in this edition is by E. T. Davies (1878–1969).

[50] Erik Routley’s description, quoted by Alan Luff, ‘A Welsh Carol and Its Consequences’ (1985), p.108.

[51] On the relationship, see Alun Davies, ‘A Variation on Two Carols’, Welsh Music, 4:5 (Winter 1973/74), pp.51–61, 81; Alan Luff, ‘Correspondence’, Welsh Music, 4:6 (Spring 1974), pp.106–7; Gareth H. Lewis, ‘Correspondence’, Welsh Music, 4:7 (Summer 1974), pp.128–9; Phyllis Kinney, ‘The Tunes of the Welsh Christmas Carols’, Canu Gwerin (Folk Song), 12 (1989), pp.7–8; and (in Welsh) D. Roy Saer, ‘Carol y Cymro ac Anthem y Sais’, Welsh Music, 7:9–10 (Summer 1985), pp.6–19.