Bit of politics and culture tonight, my friends. It is Ireland week after all, so we need to remind our Celtic cousins about our superior cultural heritage, don’t we?
Siôn T. Jobbins’ book about our National Anthem is going to stir up a fair bit of debate. In the week where the latest census revealed that Welsh speaking is declining in many of its traditional heartlands, the author of this pocket guide to our National Anthem is urging those who don’t agree with the words not to sing it.
Whilst I support Jobbins’ desire to defend our language and recognise its significance to our wider culture, history and identity, I don’t think we should be telling people they can’t sing a song at a rugby match.
For a start, what would we sing if we didn’t sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau? Hymns and Arias? And do we have to stop singing Cwm Rhondda because we don’t believe every word of the Old Testament? Course we don’t.
Our anthem is the nitro we add to the fuel tank just prior to kick off. It’s one of the most spine-tingling experiences in the world to hear it belted out at the Millennium Stadium, and I’m pretty sure its proudly sung by everyone who knows the words. Or some of the words.
The key line for Jobbins is the final line of the chorus (we only sing one of the verses):
“O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau” – in English, “May the language endure for ever.”
For many Welsh people the language is an intrinsic part of the national identity; a key component of our culture. Without the Welsh language, what is left of Wales to distinguish it from its neighbours?
The author ends with a challenge to “politicians and weak-willed people” to do more than just allow the language to “endure.” He says we should all be standing up for Welsh and actively promoting it. And that means a lot more than belting it out before a rugby match.