The best of mornings

based on the Welsh plygain carol Wel dyma'r borau gorau i gyd

Music: Trad. Welsh, transcribed (with permission) by Sheena Phillips. Words: English by Sheena Phillips, based on the original Welsh
performance time approx 2m 00s
Range Solo: d – d' / T1: a – e' / T2: g – d'; / B: G – g
Complexity: **

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a synthesized rendering
This piece is the last in the set Two Welsh carols
The first piece is Awake were they only
The best of mornings is sold only in the set Two Welsh carols, and is not available for sale as an individual piece.
This fine carol celebrating the birth of Jesus comes from the Welsh custom of plygain: a candle-lit church service beginning long before dawn on Christmas Day, with a succession of individual singers and small groups – especially duets and trios – singing traditional carols.

This example was transcribed from the singing of Parti Fronheulog, a trio of Welsh brothers, in the 1960s. Solo sections alternate with simply harmonised tutti sections. The manuscript is held by the National Museum of Wlaes and the music is reprinted with permission.


Behold, the best of mornings dawns: a gentle child has come here.
The world is saved by Jesus' birth: released from sin and error.
In human form, so weak and frail, we find our King and Brother.
How wonderful to see him at the breast of his dear mother.

O this is a wonder, the whole world rejoices.
And God's Holy Spirit gives wings to our voices:
Our carols at dawn are a pleasure.
And songs sung by three men are our fine tradition,
But now we are seeking for more than diversion,
And seeing His face is true treasure.

Now freely given Love will be all human-kind's redemption.
It pours out from the very heart of God above in heaven.
For God ordained that in His name a sacrifice be given:
A chosen Son would die to save all wretched men and women.

A serpent deceived us and God's law was broken
When Adam and Eve lived in beautiful Eden.
We fell like a rock in the valley.
But though for our sin we were shown desolation,
There now comes, to lift us and bring us salvation,
The Lamb who is gentle and lowly.

Sheena Phillips

based on a free translation of the original Welsh by David Thomas (Dafydd Ddu Eryri) (1759-1822)

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