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The Welsh National Anthem: Words and History

Updated on September 6, 2014

Learn the words to the Welsh national anthem and the history behind it!

To those who do not live in the United Kingdom, and even to those who do, the Welsh National Anthem may be relatively unknown. However, for the Welsh, it is a symbol of their independence from an Anglocentric sovereign and their distinctiveness in terms of culture and language. Always sung in Welsh, the anthem is used at any sort of official gathering, from sporting events to government conferences.On this page, you will find not only the words for the Welsh National Anthem, but you will also discover the rich history behind it. With the help of the Welsh pronunciation guide I have provided, you will also be able to learn how to read and sing the words. I do hope you enjoy your journey through a little part of precious Welsh history.

Photo courtesy of the National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad Cymru on Flickr

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The Words to the Welsh National Anthem - The Welsh National Anthem "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" in Cymraeg (Welsh)

Hen Wlad fy Nhadau Words
Hen Wlad fy Nhadau Words

The above version of the Welsh National Anthem is the one most often sung at important sporting events, official government ceremonies, and school celebrations.. It consists of one stanza and the chorus. The full version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, consisting of three stanzas, can be found here.

How to Pronounce Welsh Words - A guide to the pronunciation of Welsh Words to correctly sing the Welsh National Anthem

Once you get over the initial hurdle of understanding the differences between English and Welsh pronunciation of words, you will soon find that Welsh actually isn't very difficult to read. This is due to the phonetic nature of the Welsh written language. That is, every word is written as it sounds, unlike English which has a variety of odd spellings that even English speakers cannot get their heads around!Below, you will find a list of the difference between English and Welsh pronunciation of letters. With a little practice, you will soon be on your way to speaking (and singing) fluent Welsh!

Source: Pronouncing Welsh Place Names

  • C = the English 'K' as in 'kid' or 'keys'
  • CH = A sound that does not exist in English, but is present in German and Scottish. The velar voiceless fricative in 'loch' of 'Loch Ness'.
  • DD = A voiced interdental fricative that exists in English as the 'th' in my name, Heather.
  • G = Always pronounced as the G in "go" and never as the G in "giant"
  • LL = Another sound that does not exist in English. Similar to the 'th' in "this" but with the tongue behind the front teeth. When your tongue is in place, blow out, allowing air to pass freely on either side of the tongue. To hear this sound, go HERE and click on the small letter L with a line through it (lateral fricative).
  • F = The letter F in Welsh is simply the letter V of "vain" and "veer" in English!
  • FF = FF, on the other hand, is the same as the English F of "friend" and "foe."
  • W = In Welsh, W is considered a vowel. This vowel is equivalent to the sound "oo" in English, found in goon, platoon, and moon.
  • Y = The letter Y in Welsh is also a vowel. It is the one of the only letters that will vary its sound according to its placement in a word. If you find Y in the final syllable of a word, it is pronounced "i" as in pig, mist and lid. In all other positions, it is pronounced as the "u" in bun, fun or sun. In one syllable words, the pronunciation of Y is random.

The Words to the Welsh National Anthem in English - The Welsh National Anthem translated into English

Land of my Fathers (Welsh National Anthem in English)
Land of my Fathers (Welsh National Anthem in English)

Hang the words for the Welsh National Anthem up in your bedroom!

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Kev Griffin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kev Griffin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The History of the Welsh National Anthem

How 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' came into being

The Welsh National Anthem was the result of a father-son musical collaboration. The father, poet Evan James (1809-1878) and his son, harpist and musician James James (1833-1902) thought up the famous tune in January 1956. It is said that the melody for Hen Wlad fy Nhadau came to James James as he was walking along the banks of Rhondda, which is why the original title of the anthem was Glan Rhondda. Later, his father put words to the music, and it soon became an extremely popular tune in the local area.The anthem was first performed in 1856 by Elizabeth John of Pontypridd, which was also the hometown of the Evan and James James. At the Llangollen Eisteddfod of 1858, the song increased in popularity thanks to Thomas Llewelyn who had included the song in his collection of Welsh airs. However, it was only when the competition's adjudicator Owain Alaw added the song to his publication Gems of Welsh Melody and changed its title from Gian Rhondda to Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau that the tune became well-known across the entire nation.Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, as an anthem, has achieved many feats. It was the first anthem to be sung by a country at a sporting event. It was also one of the first Welsh songs ever to be recorded. Furthermore, it has been reworked by a number of popular Welsh musicians such as Geraint Jarman a'r Cynganeddwyr and guitarist Tich Gwilym. Despite all this, it has never officially been declared the national anthem of Wales by law.

Photo by Kev Griffin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Evan James & James James Statue in Ynysangharad Park - A monument to honour the contributions of Evan and James James to Welsh culture

Kev Griffin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kev Griffin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful memorial represents the two muses - poetry and music - which came together in the form of Evan and James James to create the national anthem of Wales.

Photo by Kev Griffin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

John Redwood's Famous Blooper - The Secretary of State for Wales doesn't know the words to the Welsh national anthem

In 1993, Secretary of State for Wales John Redwood made a poor showing when he was caught on videotape awkwardly mouthing the words of the Welsh national anthem at the Welsh Conservative Party Conference. To read exactly what happened, click on the news links below!

Buy the Welsh National Anthem on Amazon - Download a soothing MP3 version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Here you will find a number of version of the Welsh National Anthem being sung by choirs.

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau sung by Cor Rehoboth Welsh Choir - A beautiful rendition of the Welsh national anthem

Have you learned the lyrics to the Welsh National Anthem? - Please let us know you stopped by!

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    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Thanks Taff! Hugz fi a Jock!

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 5 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      A great Welsh lesson. I have always been fascinated by the dragon emblem on the Welsh flag. Thank you.

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 4 years ago

      Very interesting and very educational. A proud nation.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 4 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I was wondering when John Redwood was going to get a mention. It brought to mind the phrase - "Better to keep your mouth shut and look like an idiot, than to open your mouth and prove it."

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Very interesting. Thanks for the peek into the Welsh national anthem!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What fantastic explanations superbly done & so so interesting many thanks. Da iawn diolch

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      Chris 2 years ago

      Old FartI was surprised to see that you had Tiger stinyag here this weekend . I thought we agreed that anytime I booked room 4 I would pay for exclusive use of the pile so that there was no chance of being rumbled . Things are just settling down with Col and the last thing I need is Tiger letting her know that I was down in Slagheap with a couple of slappers for the weekend . And , here's the real problem , I hate competition and I reckon Tiger could be even more of a draw for the birds than me what with being single and rich . I mean Col only gives me 2 grand pocket money for the weekend . What's a poor footballer supposed to do ?If you must have Tiger here can you stick him up in the east wing or something and hide my Bently somewhere CheersWayne

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