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Updated 04/24/2013


Ar Hyd y Nos
(All Through the Night)

Ar Hyd y Nos ("All through the Night") is a Welsh folksong sung to a tune which was first recorded in Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards (1784). Edward Jones (March 1752 – April 18, 1824), was a Welsh harpist, bard, performer, composer, arranger, and collector of music. He was commonly known by the bardic name of "Bardd y Brenin", which he took in 1820, when King George IV, his patron, came to the throne.  Jones was born in Llandderfel, near Bala.  He first came to London in 1775, and was patronized by prominent Welshmen and by Charles Burney. He became harp tutor to several wealthy families, and in about 1790 was made official harpist to the Prince of Wales. In 1805 he moved into St James's Palace.

The Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes (shown above). It has been translated into several languages, including English. Hughes (25 September 1832 - 23 April 1887), was a Welsh poet and well-known collector of Welsh folk tunes. Sometimes referred to as the 'Robert Burns of Wales'. Ceiriog was born at Penybryn farm overlooking the village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, in the Ceiriog Valley, which was then in Denbighshire in north-east Wales. He worked as a railway clerk in Manchester and London. He was employed as a station master at Caersws railway station station from 1868.

Through his desire to restore simplicity of diction and emotional sincerity, he did for Welsh poetry what Wordsworth and Coleridge did for English poetry. He became famous winning a serious of prizes for his poems in the 1850s. His first collection of poetry was published in 1860 and is called Oriau'r Hwyr (“Evening Hours”). As well as writing poetry he wrote many light hearted lyrics which he adapted to old Welsh tunes, or the original music of various composers. Many of his songs were written to folk airs. Ceiriog Hughes' song lyrics include Dafydd y Garreg Wen ("David of the White Rock"). He also wrote the Welsh words to the song, "God Bless the Prince of Wales" and to the Charles Dibden song, "The Bells of Aberdovey", which he translated as "Clychau Aberdyfi".

His fascination with Welsh folk music led to an investigation of the history of the music and particularly the harpists who would often accompany then. This led to a grand project to publish four volumes of Welsh airs, of which only the first volume actually made it to press in 1863: Cant O Ganeuon ("A Hundred Songs").  Like many Welsh poets, he took a bardic name - "Ceiriog" - from the River Ceiriog, which flows through the Ceiriog Valley, where he was born. In his home village, the public library contains a memorial inscription to him.

The song is included in Fantasia on British Sea Songs at the Last Night of the Proms, representing Wales.

Lyrics by John Ceiriog Hughes

Holl amrantau'r sęr 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 mor siriol, gwena seren
Ar hyd y nos
I oleuo'i chwaer ddaearen
Ar hyd y nos.
Nos yw henaint pan ddaw cystudd
Ond i harddu dyn a'i hwyrddydd
Rhown ein golau gwan da'n gilydd
Ar hyd y nos.



Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er they spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night.

In an alternate version, the second verse is substituted with:

Angels watching ever round thee
All through the night
In thy slumbers close surround thee
All through the night
They will of all fears disarm thee,
No forebodings should alarm thee,
They will let no peril harm thee
All through the night