Sweet turtle dove is singing and all the world rejoicing
And trees extend their branches, invite us to their dances
Pure kin – all blooming fur and fin.
The host sings praises, earth harmonises
Exulted chorus, all glowing from within
Their brilliant anthem to him wakes hills and valleys green.
In time, great saviour of the world
Took his dominion, to show compassion
To tainted children born from her hidden sin
Long live the grace of Jesus, his whole dominion cries.
Gwêl yr Adeilad
Mae’r dirtir bêr yn canu a’r byd yn gorfoleddu
Mewn gwir fyw lwyddiant
A choed y maes sydd eto, oll fel yn curo dwylo
Mewn clôd a moliant
Câr gwyn a gwridog fawl am hyn.
Llu’r nêf a’i moliant, a’r llawr cyd-ganant
Hwy’n un enynant, pob un a’i dant yn dynn
A’i tanllyd anthem iddo nes deffro bro a bryn.
Mewn pryd, iachawdwr mawr y byd
Daeth ar ei orsedd, i rhoi drugaredd
I blant y llygredd, fu mhwll ei camwell cudd
Teirnasa dirion Iesu, yw gwaedd ei deulu gyd.
English adaptation ©Susan Walton 2018
My adaptation of this traditional plygain carol, ‘Gwêl yr Adeilad’, was commissioned by the harpist Bethan Nia. You can hear the original Welsh version on YouTube. A more lively version is included on her 2021 album, Ffiniau.
These extracts from Welsh Folk Customs* explain the plygain:
“In many parts of Wales … Christmas meant rising early (or staying up overnight) to attend the plygain service at the parish church.
Plygain, and its earlier forms pylgain and pylgaint, are derived from the Latin pulli cantus: ‘cock’s crow’
Seen against its historical background the plygain is a survival of a pre-reformation Christmas service modified to suit the new Protestant conditions
The carols sung at the plygain were written in the traditional metres and set to old airs ”.
*Owen, Trefor M., Welsh Folk Customs (Cardiff, 1978)
Image ©Susan Walton 2018.