For any number of reasons everyone has their favourite song list. I am no different. I have my favourite choir songs.
My favourite choir songs are the hymns Llanfair and Arwelfa.
Llanfair written by Robert Williams. Born at Llanfechell, Anglesey. Baptised at Llanfechell on 27 October 1782.
Robert was blind from birth but earned his living by basket-making. He was also a musician of great repute. ‘Llanfair’ was first titled ‘Bethel’ in Robert Williams’ notebook.
Written arround 1817 the great hymn will be 200 years old next year.
Listen below to the choir recording of ‘Llanfair’
By comparison, Arwelfa, is a more contemporary Welsh hymn. Written by John Hughes (1896 – 1968). He was not regarded as a prolific composer.
Retired in 1961 he had attained prominence as a conductor, adjudicator and lecturer.
Born in Rhosllannerchrugog, Denbighshire, John is the brother of composer and musician Arwel Hughes.
John and Arwel, along with seven other siblings, lived in a house named ‘Arwelfa’. How appropriate.
Listen below to our recording of ‘Arwelfa’
I love both the hymns for their wonderful harmonies and sheer musicality.
When coupled with the words they are so enjoyable and moving to sing.
Modern composers seem unable to write music like that.
At choir practices Mrs Dodd, just before the end would ask ‘Right boys, what do you want to finish off with?’
Straight away I would answer either Llanfair or Arwelfa. ‘You and your Llanfair and Arwelfa!’ she would reply.
But we always finished practice on a rousing note.
New Favourite Choir Songs
We always have to learn new items to keep our repertoire fresh. One of my favourite new items is ‘Fy Mhlentyn’ by Aled Wyn Edwards.
A beautiful piece of music by the conductor of Cantorion Gogledd Cymru.
Finally, the other is ‘American Trilogy,’ arranged by Alwyn Humphreys. This brings back happy childhood memories of Elvis Presley.