2.3 Folk Songs Proper

The texts of these songs were emotional and poetic with shorter verses than in the bal­lads. The language is straight to the point without the tiring circumlocution of many ballads.

The melodies are simple without vocal difficulties, but often wonderful in form and very expressive. Many tunes are similar to the emotional 'hwyl'[1] of the old Welsh preach­ers. The melodies of many traditional Welsh hymn tunes are those of folk songs (carols, ballads and love songs).. These came to be used as sacred melodies when hymn singing was introduced into Welsh nonconformist services of worship in the first half of the 18th century. In the following time these hymn tunes became more popular than the harp airs or secular folk songs.[2]

The hymn tunes, which can be counted among the most beautiful sacred melodies of the world, are mostly sung in four-part harmony.[3]


[1] cf. example for the Welsh 'hwyl' in a sermon on the enclosed CD  
[2] cf. Williams, W.S.G., p. 70
cf. Williams, W.S.G., p. 74; cf. recording on the enclosed CD: Cymanfa Ganu, August 13, 1972

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