Land Of My Fathers – the 1931 Version

I’m very grateful to Anton for sending me a link to this wonderful bit of history – the first time the singing of “Land Of My Fathers” before an international rugby match was captured on a newsreel. The venue for the Wales-Scotland match was Cardiff Arms Park, which still exists, but the international games are now played at the recently-renamed Principality Stadium which is directly adjacent to the old venue. The skyline around the Arms Park is still mostly recognizable. The opening panning shot is looking North towards Bute Park, but as it moves right you can see the old Palace and Hippodrome, on Westgate Street, which is now the site of a Wetherspoon’s pub; only the facade is intact as the interior was completely gutted and rebuilt.

It seems that some sort of mechanical fault meant that the roof of the Principality Stadium was left open for last night’s match between Wales and France (which Wales won 19-10). That would have meant that the singing of Land of my Fathers could have been heard throughout the city. I remember once spending a Saturday afternoon in my garden in Pontcanna, and could hear the noise from the stadium very clearly. There’s something very special about the singing of the Welsh National Anthem on such occasions – it always sends a shiver down my spine.

18 Responses to “Land Of My Fathers – the 1931 Version”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    If I’d known before the last 15 minutes that that match was on then I’d have gone to the pub to watch it. (By design I don’t have a TV aerial or license.)

    I learnt Hen Wlad fy Nhadhau last year to sing at the funeral of a friend’s mother, who was Welsh. Although I did this phonetically I took the trouble to understand what it means. I live near Wales and wish that land well.

    I would be interested to hear this played at the dance tempo at which it was originally written!

  2. Alan Heavens Says:

    Yes, but sadly the tune can’t actually be played on the bagpipes. It has a very nice blue note on the ‘think’ of ‘tae think again’, so it always grates when sung at rugby matches as some people sing the written note, and some follow the bagpipes, a (far less effective) semitone higher. The combination is, naturally, excruciating.

    • Probably the only example of rugby-match singing being perceived as being superior to bagpipes. 🙂

      • Assuming one likes bagpipes, of course. I do, though I prefer the smaller versions with bellows, such as the uilleann pipes,

        Task for the day: find a piece of music with both bagpipes and harpsichords.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Without googling, and with no guarantee of rectitude, Going Down The Road by Roy Wood has bagpipes at one point and he was versatile enough to include just about any instrument, perhaps a harpsichord. Or maybe something by Malicorne or someone like that.

      • Good hints.

        Of course, the bagpipes are usually associated with folk music and harpsichords with “highbrow” music. The harpsichord is also a product of the 15h century and already almost died out in the 18th, whereas bagpipes are much, much older, so the combination is often a creative anachronism.

        Speaking of creative anachronisms, last week I was at a concert of Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations which featured an 18th-century harpsichord (or one made later in this style) decorated with the wonderful middle panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. (This is roughly the equivalent of decorating an electric guitar with something by Jacques-Louis David.)

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I thought you knew the answer!

        It’s also the sort of thing Mike Oldfield might do. Or Alan Stivell.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Or these people:

      • I’m looking forward to Gryphon at this year’s Cropredy festival. Steeleye Span is also on the bill. I’ve seen them a few times (many of them at Cropredy). This will be the first I will have seen them without Peter Knight.

        The addition of The Amazing Blondel would have made the lineup perfect.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I take it that’s Peter Knight the fiddler, not Peter Knight the physicist…

        I remember seeing Steeleye on their first tour after getting a drummer, in the early 1970s.

        I recall Amazing Blondel but never heard their music – what’s it like?

      • “I take it that’s Peter Knight the fiddler, not Peter Knight the physicist…”

        Yes. Although I am sure there are several people who are both musicians and physicists, though probably few who are famous in both fields.

        “I remember seeing Steeleye on their first tour after getting a drummer, in the early 1970s.”

        They’re still worth seeing today.

        “I recall Amazing Blondel but never heard their music – what’s it like?”

        I’ve never heard another band like them. I’m basing this on a double-CD I have (a reissue of two original albums: Evensong/Fantasia Lindum, Beat Goes On 626, CD, 2004); later music departed somewhat from this. The music they wrote themselves, and lyrics are in modern English (though with an antique feel). The style of both lyrics and music is very much Shakespearean: late Renaissance/early Baroque. (Don’t be deceived by an album cover which has a more Restoration look.)

        This double-CD is one of my favourite albums.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        You don’t know about Peter Knight the physicist’s involvement with the Hendrix tour of England then?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I don’t know much more than that but Peter K told me that he had the task of getting onto the stage a Hendrix who was sufficiently stoned to fall out of the tour coach.

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