William Williams

William Williams van Pontycelyn was the sweet singer of Wales. He was born in Cefn-y-Coed, in the Parish of Llanfair-y-bryn, near Llandovery, in 1717. He was ordained deacon of the Established Church in 1740. He served two parishes in the Anglican Church for a time, but never felt at ease in the established, ritualistic church. He decided to take all of Wales as his parish and for the next forty-three years he travelled nearly 100,000 miles on horseback, preaching and singing the gospel in his native tongue. Throughout Wales he was respected as a persuasive preacher, yet it is said that the chief source of his influence was his hymns. He wrote approximately 800 of them, all in Welsh. Williams died in Pontycelyn, on January 11th, 1791.

William Williams
1717 - 1791

"Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" first appeared in a hymnal published by Williams in Bristol, England, in 1745. It originally consisted of five six-line stanzas. In 1771, another hymnal was published by Peter Williams (no relation), in which he translated 3 stanzas into English. A year later the original author, William Williams, or possibly his son John, made another English version. The tune for the present version was made in 1907 by John Hughes, (1873-1932), a noted Welsh composer.

The text with this tune is still one of the most popular and widely used hymns in Wales. The hymn has been translated into over seventy-five different languages.


Music piece: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow'rful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my strength and shield;
Be Thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Bear me thro' the swelling current,
Land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs and praises, songs and praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.


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