Archive for May, 2020

Guide me O, Thou great Jehovah

In the 18th century, William Williams (1717-1791) wrote the well known Welsh hymn “Guide me O, Thou great Jehovah”. This hymn in the original Welsh was known as “Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch”. 

Today in Wales, it is known as “Cwm Rhondda”. In the Anglican Church it is often known as ‘Guide me O, Thou great Redeemer‘. In other traditions ‘Bread of Heaven‘.

When I was a boy, I often looked through my fathers record collection. He had a vinyl LP called “Songs of the Valleys” by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir. The sleeve had a green cover with a picture of the Welsh hills on it. I loved that album, and the track “Bread of Heaven” stood out to me more than most.

There was something about the sound of the Welsh Male Voice Choir singing the chorus “Bread of Heaven”. The sound called my soul to stand up and rejoice and know that some things are beyond us.

The above YouTube video is my version of this timeless and wonderfully powerful hymn. I love Anglican music and my version reflects that tradition of that great organ sound.

I originally recorded the track as part of a larger project. But I have decided to give it a brief, none commercial hearing, for now, during the ‘Coronavirus’ pandemic. 

May our Lord Jesus Christ guide you, and your spirit, as this East Wind continues to blow.

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Lliver Gweddi Gyffredin, William Salesbury’s Book of Common Prayer and Psalms

William Salesbury St Asaph © 2020 Simon Peter SutherlandOn May 6, over 450 years ago, William Salesbury published The Book of Common Prayer and Psalms, newly translated, into Welsh.

This 16th century prayer book had been previously written for use within the Church of England by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The Book of Common Prayer would become an important spiritual ingredient in the daily diet of Christians throughout England, and beyond, and continues to be used by Anglicans, even to this day.

The Book of Common Prayer and Psalms has been deeply revered within Christianity, and a majority of English Bibles were printed and bound with it from the 16th century up to the 19th century. It was that important.

Early 19th century editions published by the British and Foreign Bible Society are among some of the earliest Bibles to exclude the BCP.  But earlier printed Bibles such as the Geneva Bible and King James Bibles, all contained Cranmer’s Prayer book.

In the year 1567, William Salesbury had translated his version into Welsh under the title; Lliver Gweddi Gyffredin. Back in those days Parliament was Biblically minded and Westminster had given Salesbury the deadline of 1 March 1567 (St David’s Day) to publish his translation. Sadly that deadline was missed. The Book of Common Prayer and Psalms into Welsh did not appear until May 6. But it was not without its opponents.

Anger had outburst by opponents of the Welsh tongue, and people had aggressively demanded that the translation be utterly abandoned. But such opposition was unfruitful. Salesbury did not give in.

Lliver Gweddi Gyffredin was published on 6 May 1567. But Salesbury was the translator, not the author.

Cranmer’s original Book of Common Prayer had been a work of absolute genius and Christian devotion. Rather than divide the Church, Cranmer sought to unify her through Scripture and Prayer.

Cranmer’s prayer book is a very special gift and people would always do well to read it. The Book of Common Prayer and Psalms is a monumental work that has echoed on through the centuries and has fed the Church of God with Scripture, through with Prayer.

It is not a book of ‘prayers’, it is a book of prayer. We need more of that today, perhaps more now than ever.

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