Taliesin's Songbook

Taliesin’s Songbook is an exploration of 20th- and 21st-century Welsh song, performed by a sparkling line up of Welsh artists: sopranos, Natalya Romaniw, Rebecca Evans, Elin Manahan Thomas and Susan Bullock; tenor, Elgan Llŷr Thomas; baritone, Gareth Brynmor John; pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen, who curated the album, and harpist Catrin Finch. 

From the precocious talent of Morfydd Owen, to leading Welsh composers of today, this collection unfurls the journey of Welsh song over the last 100 years. 

TsB digital square 95000 x 5000 px) (1).

Archwiliad o gân Gymreig yr 20fed a’r 21ain ganrif yw Caneuon Taliesin, a berfformir gan restr ddisglair o artistiaid o Gymru: sopranos, Natalya Romaniw, Rebecca Evans, Elin Manahan Thomas a Susan Bullock; tenor, Elgan Llŷr Thomas; bariton, Gareth Brynmor John; a’r pianydd Andrew Matthews-Owen  a wnaeth curadu'r albwm, a'r telynores Catrin Finch.


O ddawn ifanc Morfydd Owen, i gyfansoddwyr blaenllaw Cymru heddiw, mae'r casgliad hwn yn agor taith cân Gymreig dros y 100 mlynedd diwethaf.

English translations

2. Deilen

The leaf from the tree is shed.
It hovers, it flies,
Holds onto the breeze,
Hangs gently,
Quietly swims
It slides - a bright flash -
White-bellied or yellow
It clowns, colour-whirls,
Fantastically flaunts,
Mouses short-footed, a gurgle of colour, It wheels obliquely, sways
Down bright to the earth.
The leaf from the tree is being shed -
And what is it doing? It's dying.

Translation by Gwyn Thomas

3. Nos o Haf

Night of Summer

O balmy summery evening,

The world has gone completely quiet

To listen to thy lulling.

The wandering blow enfeebles to sleep

Under the enchantment of aromas

of rose and musk,

And sleeping almost

is the sound of the flood.

Shy birds the hay and the corn hide,

Their sounds are enchanting and alluring

Under thy soothing wings.

Let no sound break, O tender night,

On the light sleep of the pretty Aurora

Too short, too short her doze!

O, quiet night of summer,

Thy balm cheers the sick,

Thy hushes relieve his pangs.

Let nothing snatch the sleep

of the weary worker -

The sleep which thy noble essence knows -

At the morn of day so short thy age!

5. Pedoli, Pedoli

Shoeing Song

A-shoeing, a-shoeing, a-shoeing, bi-dink,
I must be a-shoeing whatever you think.
One shoe before
And one shoe behind,
One shoe a-missing and as we go dashing,
Bi-dink, bi-dink, bi-dink.
Bi-dink, bi-dink, bi-dink.

A-shoeing, a-shoeing, a-shoeing, bi-drot,
I must be a-shoeing, it costs me a lot.
Shoe on the right,
A fitting so tight,
Shod by the smith at his work in the smithy.
Bi-drot, bi-drot, bi-drot.
Bi-drot, bi-drot, bi-drot.

Translation by Rhiannon Hoddinott

6. Cysga di, fy Mhlentyn Tlws


Sleep, oh sleep, my little babe,

Sleep, oh sleep, my little babe,

Sleep, oh sleep, my little babe,

Oh sleep until the morning,

Oh sleep until the morning.

Sleep, my little baby, sleep,

Close your eyes and do not weep,

Over you a watch I’ll keep,

Oh sleep until the morning,

Oh sleep until the morning.

Translation by Rhiannon Hoddinott

9. Mae 'mron yn dyner

My heart is tender

My heart is tender as the dawn,

My love will live beyond the day,

Give me your word you will not turn away,

Give me your heart, give me your heart.

The sun will bring another day across the world,

A time to hold until the world grows cold,

Give me your heart, give me your heart.

The years will bring both weal and woe,

To try the temper of our faith,

Let it be firm and strong unto death,

Give me your heart, give me your heart.

Translation by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith

11. Ynys y Plant

The Children's Isle

I sometimes see at sunset low,

A peaceful island far away;

Its golden hilltops God doth know,

Won all my heart, long, long ago;

No sorrow there, no grief or pain,

Thunder or lightning wind or rain;

Oh! happy island far away,

‘Tis seen by light of dying day.

I sometimes hear the voices bright

Of children playing far away,

How happy on those hills of light,

The little ones in robes of white!

And lo! among that joyful band,

I see the Child of Bethle’m stand.

Ah! peaceful island far away

Where reigns serene immortal day,

And one is there, whose head hath lain

Ah! near my heart full many a day

I mourned for him in bitter pain,

Until I saw that isle again,

And maybe ‘tis the thought of this

That closer brings yon isle of bliss,

Yon tranquil island far away

His house and mine; our home for aye!

Translation by G. M. Probert

15. Yr Alarch

The Swan

Fair swan, the lake you ride

Like white-robed abbot in your pride;

Round-foot bird of the drifted snow,

Like heavenly visitant you show.


From God’s hand this day you take

Lordship over Syfaddon Lake,


Riding the waves in stately sort

For fish to angle is your sport,

And your fishing-rod, beyond compare,

‘Tis your long neck, shapely and fair.

Warden you are of the round lake,

Fair-hued as the foam-flake.

Pure white through the wild waves shown;

In shirt as bright as crystal stone

And doublet all of lilies made

And flowered waistcoat you’re arrayed,

With jacket wove of all the wild white rose;

And your gown like honeysuckle shows.

Radiant you all fowls among,

White-cloaked bird of heaven’s throng.

Translation by H. Idris Bell

19. Pan Oeddwn Fachgen

A Dream of Youth

All day and each day the sea shone, so deep in blueness;

The sun could see no storms for tomorrow, for yesterday’s guilt no tears;

Walking the quay in the morning light, the masts asking questions,

Prying and spying while gulls cry overhead;

And there was my Gwennan Gorn, whelp of spray, billow spearer.

I’d lie in the prow and trail my hands in the water;

We near, pure and selfless the lighthouse upon the island,

Where darted and wriggled fish under silent rocks

How gaily the sail reached to the heavens,

How swiftly then it sank to the depth of my sinews!

There in a green dream hung the land between my eyelids,

Unheeded by the sea youth sent the hours away,

Dreadful, when on returning treading on firm ground,

Walking over the heavy clay, to hear within

Death calling to the flesh. Dreaming of yore, not returning;

Trailing their rays those suns sank down in sadness;

But the light linger’d on o’er the bay, fighting the darkness,

As if by faith light had been gather’d to that tow’r:

Just as before Time’s dread hand had seized upon me,

It shines still upon a voyage unfinished for me.

Translation Alun Llywelyn-Williams

21. Gweddi y Pechadur

The Sinner's Prayer

Before you, Lord, I’m kneeling
And bring to you my shame.
A sinner I present you –
I have no other name.
For mercy I’m beseeching,
Again I’ll cry and wail,
For mercy I am reaching,
I perish if I fail.
I know that I’m a sinner,
O God I can no more;
I’m poor, I’m soiled, I’m guilty,
For mercy I implore.
I come to you confessing,
From here until my grave,
That I am but a ‘sinner,
Unworthy to be saved’.

I heard before that Jesus,
And that he would in time
Give mercy to all sinners
However base their crime.

O take me, Jesus, take me
With them, every one,
And grant my sins forgiveness,
Grant them, grant my sins forgiveness,
Then let my sins be done,
Then let them, then let my sins be done.

Translation by Elin Manahan Thomas

22. Gwynfyd


O blessed realm of Paradise,

O land of beauty and of peace,

My soul too oft in secret cries,

And seeks it far beyond the skies.

Not found upon some far-off strand,

Nor yet within the pearly deep,

But nearer far, in mine own hand

I hold the key to that fair land.

More peaceful than the deepest sleep,

Within my heart for-e’er to keep,

Like roses fair before mine eyes,

O lovely land of Paradise.

Translation by Meirion Williams

8. Nid oes un foment

There's not a moment

There's not a moment of the day

But I am yours or near or far,

The bonds of love will hold me to the end,

You have my heart, you have my heart.

Until we meet, the world grows dark:

The sun lies hidden in a cloud.

I summon all my strength to comfort me,

You have my heart.

So let me leave you unafraid,

Brave in the courage of your love,

There's nothing in the world can bring me harm.

You have my heart, you have my heart.

Translation by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith

10. Crib Goch


you will not disturb the flock on these slopes,
the waterfall of stone sheep,
the unhurried, unbleating panic,
the headlong, motionless rush:
that mountains of ice have shepherded,
that ice and snow and mist have clothed,
that wind and storm have sheared
in the green youth of the world -
you cannot frighten these.

Shout - throw your rope
(unless the wind snatches your thread-thin voice)
a thousand hanging feet
about the horns of the bull-dusk whose terrible butting
stands between you and the daylight.
Shout -

words are not current here:
were they not born yesterday,
were they not baby-mouthed
in a cave over there?

Translated by R. Gerallt Jones

1. Y Mynydd

The Mountain

Sad, sad, is now the lake,

As stillness falls extending

O'er some twilight yearning

Where two rowed a boat along.

Marshland reeds are murmuring

The heathland's anguished evening,

Her keening cry to vale and hill

As Night speaks soft from ford and rill.

The song of days's farewell is mute

O'er mountain's silent tenement.

Strings of stream at dead of night,

The waterfall's her nightingale,

Birds who keen and love the dusk

And dark eve's distant lullaby.

Track list

DILYS ELWYN-EDWARDS (1918-2012)                                                 

Caneuon Natur

1. Y Mynydd [02:48]      

2. Deilen [01:16]             

3. Nos o Haf [03:31]      

Rebecca Evans, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano

4. Cloths of Heaven [02:37]
Rebecca Evans, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano


ALUN HODDINOTT (1929-2008)

from Four Welsh Songs (Op. 38, No. 3)

5. Pedoli, Pedoli [01:12]                                          

6. Cysga di, fy Mhlentyn Tlws [02:08] 
Rebecca Evans, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano           


7. Medieval Carol (Op. 38, No. 2) [01:55]
Gareth Brynmor John, baritone; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano             


ARWEL HUGHES (1909-88)

from Menna

8. Nid oes un foment [02:58]                    

9. Mae ‘mron yn dyner [02:11]
Susan Bullock, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano                



from Caneuon y Mynyddoedd (Op. 131)

10. (i) Crib Goch [04:17]                                           

Susan Bullock, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano 

ET DAVIES (1878-1969)

11. Ynys y Plant [05:46]
Susan Bullock, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano                              



The Soul Candle

12. One day, feeling hungry [02:40]      

13. Drought [02:44]                                   

14. Spring  [02:42]  
Gareth Brynmor John, baritone; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano                                         



15. Yr Alarch [04:36]
Elin Manahan Thomas, soprano                         


GARETH GLYN (1951)    

16. Hymn to the Virgin [02:47]
Elin Manahan Thomas, soprano; Catrin Finch, harp                 



17. The Loom [03:17]
Elin Manahan Thomas, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano                       



from Three Auden Songs

18. (ii) Eyes look into the well [02:56]
Elgan Llŷr Thomas, tenor; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano



19. Pan Oeddwn Fachgen (Op. 49) [07:09]
Elgan Llŷr Thomas, tenor; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano


MORFYDD OWEN (1891-1918)

20. Slumber Song of the Madonna [02:44]           

21. Gweddi y Pechadur [05:58]                             
Natalya Romaniw, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano



22. Gwynfyd [03:15]   
Natalya Romaniw, soprano; Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano                                             

Total running time: 01:11:37

Susan Bullock, soprano 

Rebecca Evans, soprano
Catrin Finch, harp 

Gareth Brynmor John, bariton 

Natalya Romaniw, soprano 
Elgan Llŷr Thomas
, tenor 

Elin Manahan Thomas, soprano 

Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano