Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau: What do the Welsh national anthem lyrics mean?

Wales will sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ahead of the match against England  (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Wales will sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ahead of the match against England (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Wales will face off with England in the World Cup on Tuesday, November 29, in a match that is sure to have people across the UK glued to their screens.

So far, Wales has drawn 1-1 with the USA and has lost 2-0 to Iran. But the fact that the country is even playing in the tournament is historic, as Wales hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1958.

Wales’s participation in the World Cup is historic for another reason, as it is the first time Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Wales’s national anthem, has been sung at the tournament.

The anthem, and the passion of both the team and the fans while singing it, have impressed football fans from all over the world.

But ahead of the match against England, many non-Welsh speakers may be wondering, what do the lyrics mean?

Origins of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, originally called Glan Rhondda, was written in 1856 by the father-son duo Evan James and James James, from Pontypridd.

It is thought Evan wrote the lyrics in response to his brother’s wishes for him to join him in the USA, where he had recently emigrated to.

In 1858, the song was performed at Llangollen Eisteddfod (an annual celebration of Welsh arts and culture), after which it became more widely known around Wales.

The song, since renamed Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, was then included in a collection of songs called Gems of Welsh Melody, published in 1860.

It continued to become more popular at the end of the 19th century and became one of the first Welsh songs to be recorded.

Today, it is considered to be the unofficial anthem of Wales, despite numerous attempts to have it officially recognised.

Wales reach historic FIFA World Cup 2022

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History of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau at sporting events

It is thought that Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau was first sung at a sporting match in 1905, when rugby player Teddy Morgan led his team in singing the song in response to the New Zealand team’s haka.

The anthem became a popular song to sing at sporting events during the 20th century, but it wasn’t until 1975 that officials decided that Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau should be sung alone, without being followed by God Save the Queen.

In fact, when Wales last qualified for the World Cup in 1958, the team only sang God Save the Queen.

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau lyrics

The first verse and the chorus are as follows:

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,

Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;

Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,

Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,

Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,

O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

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Welsh anthem in English

In English, the lyrics mean:

This land of my fathers is dear to me

Land of poets and singers, and people of stature

Her brave warriors, fine patriots

Shed their blood for freedom.

Land, Land, I am true to my land,

As long as the sea serves as a wall

For this pure, dear land

May the language endure forever.