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The Hymnist


Elfed may be remembered primarily as a hymn writer as his hymns have been sung regularly in services and festivals throughout the decades. He composed hymns for every occasion and studied the craft thoroughly. His hymns are considered more sensible than previous hymns.


Elfed's 44 hymns are included in the hymn book 'Caneuon Ffydd' used by the denominations in Wales since 2001. The only author with more hymns, the exact double of Elfed's property, is William Williams, Pantycelyn.


Often associated with an entertaining story behind the composition of many of the hymns. Elfed talks about the experience of attending a Prayer Meeting with his father turning into two closing lines in one of his hymns;


He walked under reflection, the path too subtle for me to be by his side; and sometimes he didn't notice that I had lost ground and was following more or less a distance. Suddenly he paused, turned his face back to me, and called out, - 'Come now.' I think it was some reflection of this experience that made me sing the hymn - 'Lord Jesus learned to walk me,' to conclude the first verse with the comfort - 'It is light but to see Your face' . With the call, and one look on his face, we didn't feel so tired; my step started again, and the hill was not so hard to climb.


Elfed gave his address from the Chair of the Union of Welsh Independents in Llangefni in 1923 on 'The Welsh Hymn'. He was a member of the editorial board of three Congregationalists, published in 1895, 1921 and 1960.


Among his most well-known Welsh hymns are ‘Arglwydd mae yn nosi, gwrando ar ein cri’, ‘Hyfryd eiriau’r Iesu, bywyd ynddynt sydd’, ‘Cofia’n gwlad benllywydd tirion, dy gyfiawnder fyddo’i grym’, ‘Yr Arglwydd a feddwl amdanaf, a dyna fy nefoedd am byth’, ‘Pob peth, ymhell ac agos, sy’n dangos Duw i’r byd’ and of course ‘Rho i’m yr hedd na ŵyr y byd amdano’ is often sung at funerals.


Eight of his English hymns were once included in Praise's Congregational Singer and probably the most famous of them was 'Whom oceans part, O Lord, unite'.

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