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Updated 04/26/2013

 


Cwm Rhondda
(Rhondda Valley)
John Hughes
 

Rhondda, or the Rhondda Valley (Welsh: Cwm Rhondda), is a former coal mining valley in Wales, formerly a local government district, consisting of 16 communities built around the River Rhondda. The valley is made up of two valleys, the larger Rhondda Fawr valley (mawr large) and the smaller Rhondda Fach valley (bach small). Both the singular term 'Rhondda Valley' and the plural 'Rhondda Valleys' are commonly used. In 2001 the area of Rhondda, as described by the National Assembly for Wales, had a population of 72,443; while the National Office of Statistics described the Rhondda urban as having a population of 59,602 making it the 4th largest single urban area in Wales after the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. Rhondda is part of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough and is one of the South Wales Valleys.

The Rhondda Valley is most notable for its historical link to the coal mining industry which was at its peak between 1840-1925 AD. The Rhondda Valleys were home to a strong early nonconformist Christian movement which manifested itself in the Baptist chapels which molded Rhondda values in the 19th and early 20th century. Rhondda is also famous for strong masculine cultural ties within a social community which expressed itself outside industry in the form of male voice choirs, rugby union, trade unions and public house life.

Cwm Rhondda was written by John Hughes, the organist of Capel Rhondda in Hopkinstown, near Pontypridd. Hughes had been asked to write a tune for the inauguration of the chapel and its organ in the early 1900s. He took an earlier set of words written by William Williams (Arglwydd, Arwain Trwy'r Anialwch), who published them in 1745, and arranged a tune to them.  Hughes used an English translation, 'Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,' for its first performance in 1907 with Hughes himself at Capel Rhondda's mighty organ and it rapidly gained in popularity.
 


The hymn has evolved and shortened over time from an original version, written in 1745, with five verses.  The following version is taken from the Welsh hymnbook of the Calvinist and Wesleyan Methodists, published by the assemblies of the two churches.

Lyrics

WELSH

Arglwydd, arwain trwyr anialwch,
Fi bererin gwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynof nerth na bywyd
Fel yn gorwedd yn y bedd:
Hollalluog, hollalluog,
Ydywr Un am cwyd ir lan.
Ydywr Un am cwyd ir lan.

Colofn dn rhor nos im harwain,
A rhor golofn niwl y dydd;
Dal fi pan fwyn teithior mannau
Geirwon yn fy ffordd y sydd:
Rho imi fanna, rho imi fanna,
Fel na bwyf yn llwfrhau.
Fel na bwyf yn llwfrhau.

Agor y ffynhonnau melus
Sydd yn tarddu or Graig i maes;
Colofn dan rhor nos im harwain,
A rho golofn niwl y dydd;
'R hyd yr anial mawr canlyned
Afon iechydwriaeth gras:
Rho imi hynny, rho imi hynny,
Dim imi ond dy fwynhau.
Dim imi ond dy fwynhau.

Pan fwyn myned trwyr Iorddonen
Angeu creulon yn ei rym,
Ti gest hwnnw gynt dy hunan,
Pam yr ofnaf bellach ddim?
Buddugoliaeth, buddugoliaeth,
Gwna imi waeddi yn y llif!
Gwna imi waeddi yn y llif!

Ymddiriedaf yn dy allu,
Mawr ywr gwaith a wnest erioed:
Ti gest angau, ti gest uffern,
Ti gest Satan dan dy droed:
Pen Calfaria, Pen Calfaria,
Nac aed hwnw byth om cof.
Nac aed hwnw byth om cof.

TRANSLATION

Lord, guide me through the wilderness,
A pilgrim weak of aspect,
There is neither strength nor life in me,
As though lying in the grave,
Almighty,
It is Thou who shalt take me to that shore.

Give Thou a pillar of fire to lead me in the night,
And a pillar of mist in the day,
Hold me when I travel places
Which are rough on the way,
Give me manna,
Thus shall I not despair.

Open the sweet springs
Which gush forth from the rock,
All across the great wilderness
May a river of healing grace follow:
Give this to me
Not for me but for Thy sake.

When I go through Jordan -
Cruel death in its force -
Thou Thyself suffered this before,
Why shall I fear further?
Victory!
Let me cry out in the torrent.

I shall trust in Thy power,
Great is the work that Thou hast always done,
Thou conquered death, Thou conquered hell,
Thou hast crushed Satan beneath Thy feet,
Hill of Calvary,
This shall never escape from my memory.