46. William Williams (Pant-y-celyn)
Thinkers (158 votes)
1717 – 1791
Preacher, poet and writer of more than 800 hymns
No hymn is more closely associated with Wales than Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer. Like Land of Hope and Glory or Waltzing Matilda, it has become an unofficial national song, sung most fervently when the Wales rugby team are
in action in Cardiff:
Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim, through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Itís the last lines of the second verse that tend to be sung loudest- a strikingly effective repetition of two simple phrases:
The hymn in its most popular form (purists prefer to use Jehovah instead of Redeemer) is the work of three people. The tune, to which the piece owes a good deal of its popularity, was written by John Hughes in 1907 and is known as Cwm Rhondda. The English words are Peter Williamsí (no relation) translation of William Williamsí original Welsh.
William Williams was a farmerís son from Cefn-Y- Coed near Llandovery. He intended to be a doctor until hearing the charismatic Methodist preacher Howell Harris.
Harris wanted to use the power of Hymns to bring his religious message to the people of Wales but was hampered by a lack of material in the Welsh language.
He tapped into the Eisteddfodic tradition to encourage young writers to produce hymns as well as traditional verse. William Williams responded to the challenge, producing more than 800 hymns while travelling many thousands of miles to spread the word of God around Wales.
While few of his other works have so robustly stood the test of time, Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer retains its popularity. It was sung at opening of the Millenium Stadium in 1999 as well as at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.