Awake were they only

based on the Welsh plygain carol Roedd yn y wlad honno

Music: Trad. Welsh melody, arranged by Sheena Phillips. Words: English by K.E.Roberts (1877-1962), based on the original Welsh
performance time approx 3m 00s
Range Solo: f# – e' / T1: f# – f#' / T2: f# – d'; / B: A – a
Complexity: **

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a performance
This piece is the first in the set Two Welsh carols
The next piece is The best of mornings
Awake were they only is sold only in the set Two Welsh carols, and is not available for sale as an individual piece.
The tune and words to this beautiful carol about the revelation of heavenly light and wisdom were published in The Oxford Book of Carols (1928). Solo sections alternate with simply harmonised tutti sections, in the manner typical of the Welsh plygain tradition.

The recording is by the men of the Magpie Consort of Columbus, OH.


Awake were they only, those shepherds so lonely,
On guard in that silence profound:
When colour had faded, when night-time had shaded
Their senses from sight and from sound.
Lo, then broke a wonder, then drifted asunder
The veils from the splendour of God,
When light from the Holy came down to the lowly,
And heav'n to the earth that they trod.

May light now enfold us, O Lord, for behold us
Like shepherds, from tumult withdrawn,
Nor hearing, nor seeing, all other care fleeing,
We wait the ineffable dawn.
O Spirit all-knowing, thou source overflowing,
O move in the darkness around,
That sight may be in us, true hearing to win us
Glad tidings where Christ may be found.

K.E. Roberts

The Welsh Roedd yn y wlad honno, based on Luke 2.8, is attributed to Owen Roberts (c.1800). English words, paraphrased by K. E. Roberts (1877 – 1962), from The Oxford Book of Carols © Oxford University Press 1928. All rights reserved.

(Used with permission)

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