Calon Lan

 

Calon Lân is a Welsh song, the words of which were written in the 19th century by Daniel James (23 January 1848 – 11 March 1920) to a tune by John Hughes (1872-1914).

To me this is one of the most beautiful songs I know. The first time I read the words it sent tingles up and down my spine.  So I tried to produce an English version that did some justice to the original.

Since then it’s slowly taken off.  Arthur Bellis   arranged it about 1976, and it gets used regularly by choirs, especially in NW England. My son Neil had it at his wedding to Jane. Then it was used on BBC’s Songs of Praise, and now it’s been used by Russell Watson on his collection “Anthems: Music to Inspire a nation

Copyright  to the Russell Watson arrangement  is registered with the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

Use of this text to the Arthur Bellis arrangement is normally freely available for amateur, charitable and religious purposes, as specified in copyright, except that the pdf requests you to contact John Carr and to note Mrs Bellis’s request for a donation to Burnage Church.

Use of this text to any other arrangement is normally freely available for amateur, charitable and religious purposes, as specified in copyright.

Calon Lân English Translation

I’d not ask a life that’s easy,
Gold and pearls so little mean,
Rather seek a heart that’s joyful,
Heart that’s honest, heart that’s clean

 Heart that’s clean and filled with virtue,
Fairer far than lilies white,
Only pure hearts praise God truly,
Praise him all the day and night.

Why should I seek earthly treasures,
On swift wings they fly away,
Pure clean hearts bring greater riches
That for life eternal stay.

Heart that’s clean and filled with virtue,
Fairer far than lilies white,
Only pure hearts praise God truly,
Praise him all the day and night.

Dawn and sunset still I’m searching,
Reaching on a wing of song,
Give me Lord, through Christ my Saviour
That clean heart for which I long.

Heart that’s clean and filled with virtue,
Fairer far than lilies white,
Only pure hearts praise God truly,
Praise him all the day and night.

Welsh Original

Nid wy’n gofyn bywyd moethus,
Aur y byd na’i berlau mân:
Gofyn wyf am galon hapus,
Calon onest, calon lân.

Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na’r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu-
Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos.

Pe dymunwn olud bydol,
Hedyn buan ganddo sydd;
Golud calon lân, rinweddol,
Yn dwyn bythol elw fydd.

Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na’r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu-
Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos.

Hwyr a bore fy nymuniad
Esgyn ar adenydd cân
Ar i Dduw, er mwyn fy Ngheidwad,
Roddi i mi galon lân.

Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na’r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu-
Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos.

English Text copyright Malcolm Cowen (Cerddaf) 1975

 Posted by at 5:50 pm

  6 Responses to “Calon Lan”

  1. Malcolm, I was deeply impressed by your whole site and, being at the tail end of treatment for prostate cancer, I can appreciate something of what you are going through – but feel that I have had it easy!

    I am writing to ask your pemission to include copies of your beautiful translation of Calon Lan in my granddaughter’s wedding service on July 30th. We will be singing it in Welsh, but most of the congregation will not be Welsh speakers, so we would like everyone to be able to join in. I am a retired vicar myself and it will be a joy to marry her in what has been our family church for 2 generations – and where I ministered from 1994-1999 (while also Vicar of Harlech – enjoy your holiday there!).

    God be with you and your wife,
    (Rev) Bob Hughes

    • Diolch am eich llythr, a dim problem o gwbl gyda’r cyfieithiad o Galon Lan. Llongyfarchiadau i’r cwpl newydd.
      Thanks for your letter, and no problem at all using the translation of Calon Lan. Congratulations as well to the new couple.

      Pob bendith
      Malcolm Cowen

  2. Your words have really enlightened our understanding of this most beautiful of Welsh songs. We would be very grateful if you would give your permission for us to use the words at our daughters wedding on 26th May this year. Anna and her fiancée live in England, but are coming home to Wales to get married. Calon Lan is their choice and to have the English translation will bring the wonderful meaning to life for many of us who are not Welsh speakers. We will of course acknowledge your work in the order of service.
    Thanks for considering this request.

  3. I shall soon become Master of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers and have been asked to propose the hymns for our Robing Service at St. Vedast-alias-Foster in the City of London, with a special request that the choice should reflect that I am proudly Welsh. I would very much like to include Calon Lan, a childhood favourite, and your wonderful English translation, with your permission of course.
    The Plaisterers Company is a not for profit organisation engaged in charitable fund raising and promoting craft/trade education.

  4. Hello Malcolm

    The Berwick Male Voice Choir will be performing a new arrangement of Calon Lan (using your translation) next Friday Night 25th October. The concert starts at 7.30 pm is in St Andrew’s Wallace Green Church, Berwick-upon-Tweed. This event is in aid of the 10th Anniversary of the local hospice (Marsden House) here in Berwick part of the Hospice Care North Northumberland.

  5. This is one of the most beautiful tunes I have ever heard. Without even knowing the meaning of the words I play it over and over. Thank you for the English meaning, now the song will be even more special to me. Only Boys Aloud have done an outstanding version of this lovely song!

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