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Hymns and the Gymanfa

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Hymns and the Gymanfa

The Welsh tradition of writing hymns to be sung by congregations is traced back to the first half of the 17th century and the work of Edmwnd Prys.  Hymn-writing gained popularity in the second half of the 18th century, when notable writers such as William Williams of Pantycelyn and Ann Griffiths of Dolannog committed their spiritual experiences to paper.

The mid-19th century saw the appearance of the 'cymanfa ganu', where Nonconformists gathered to sing congregational hymns. The hymns were usually sung by four sections in harmony.  Hymn-singing achieved a good deal of its popularity due to the introduction of the Tonic Sol-Ffa, which simplified sight-reading and changes in key.  The Gymanfa was a formal affair and usually preceded by a series of practice sessions to ensure that the singing attained a high standard.





The Welsh Academy Encylopaedia of Wales (Cardiff, 2008)

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