Don’t sing the National Anthem?

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.

“The Welsh National Anthem” is published by Y Lolfa

4 thoughts on “Don’t sing the National Anthem?”

  1. Sion, I could not agree more! At Nantgaredig RFC the language is alive and well as it is in many of the local clubs. Those lines need to be sung louder than ever!

  2. Thanks for the mensh. Chuffed!

    I of course want people to sing the song and sing it with pride and ideally in with four part harmony … but that may be asking too much ;-).

    The story of the anthem is fascinating – I learnt a lot writing this little book. But I’d also like people to understand the words and their meaning., and hopefully, be sincere when they sing the Anthem.

    The final line is a very important one. I’d like to think that those who support Wales at rugby also support the Welsh language. After all, it’s the language which gives us the license to be a nation to have a team in the first place.

    Despite 107 years of singing the song as an anthem at Wales’s rugby matches the language hasn’t ‘endured’ too well has it?

    So, lets have the same passion, interest, flair for the Welsh language as we have for rugby? It’d be good to see the WRU invest, play and enjoy the Welsh language – use it in twitter would be a simple ask!

    After all, Barcelona football club have done a lot to promote Catalan and that’s why they’re can say ‘mes una club’ – more than a club.

    Lets see the WRU and our rugby clubs be ‘more than clubs’ and more than a game and support and celebrate the Welsh language as well as other aspects of Welsh life and identity.

    Look at hold 1970s footage of the NZ players doing the haka. It’s all a bit limp and embarrassing, that is, they’re embarrassed. Compare that with the haka today and the pride all players have in it. Lets do the same with Welsh – it belongs to us all. Lets use it and enjoy it. Lets sing the words of the anthem and take pride in singing in harmony and with the kind of dedication and attention to excellence we show to playing rugby. Lets make the revival of the Welsh language an exciting project which will be a testimony to our dedication, organisation and community spirit.

    OK. That’s it from me. Looking forward to the game … though, not so sure of a Grandslam after the Awful Autumn!

    Diolch,

    Siôn Jobbins

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