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‘The Sweet Singer of Wales’: Celebrating William Williams Pantycelyn at the Senedd


​The 300th anniversary of the birth of William Williams Pantycelyn will be marked with an event at the National Assembly for Wales on 18 October.

An exhibition will be unveiled, organised by the National Library of Wales, to celebrate Wales’s most prolific hymn writer and one of the country’s greatest poets and writers.

The National Library’s staff choir will be performing several arrangements of Pantycelyn’s well-known hymns during the event and a new portrait of William Williams by the Penarth artist Ivor Davies will be unveiled. Professor Wyn James will also give a brief presentation on Pantycelyn’s life and work.

William Williams Pantycelyn is credited with more than 900 hymns including one of Wales’s most famous - “Guide me O thou great Jehovah” - more commonly known as ‘Bread of Heaven’ and sang on sporting occasions.

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd, National Assembly for Wales said:

“It is fitting that we as an Assembly recognise William Williams Pantycelyn's contribution in enriching the heritage of our nation. He was not only one of the great leaders of the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century but also an incomparable poet and hymn writer.”

The portrait of Williams, by Ivor Davies, is based on the only known sketch of the writer, copies of which can be found on the walls of homes around Wales. As a child this was a familiar image to Davies and for years his wish was to recreate this classical and iconic portrait.

The Right Honourable Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister for Wales said:

“As First Minister I am very pleased to be able to join the National Library today to commemorate the life and work of one of our most gifted and brilliant people who has left to the nation a rich inheritance of hymns which are still sung across the world in many languages.”

Ceredigion artist Wynne Melville Jones will be exhibiting his painting of Pantycelyn, home of William Williams, which he created earlier this year to mark 300 years since the poets’ birth, and to celebrate his immense contribution to the religious, cultural and national life of Wales.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas, President, The National Library of Wales added:

“It can easily be argued that William Williams has had the most influence on the mind-set and thinking of Welsh people since the eighteenth century, and that his hymns and literary works – and those of his reforming contemporaries - have contributed significantly to the development of Welsh radicalism which still influences our social policy in Wales today.”

The unveiling will take place at 12.30 on Wednesday 18 October and the works will be on display at the Senedd until Monday 6th November.


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