But the verse that has undoubtedly travelled
wherever the Welsh language has, is the one of
which I give the first line as it stands in the original:
Yn y dyfroedd mawr a'r tonnau.
It is the popular tradition that one stormy night,
on reaching home after having been away preaching,
he was hailed with all the bitterness the
practised tongue of his wife could command. It
was more than he could bear: he preferred the
company of the storm without to the mad rhetoric
within, so away he went, and stood on the banks
of the River Llwchwr. The rush of the raging
torrent and the noise of the wild night brought
to his mind another river and another night, when
his soul would be overwhelmed by the desolate
presence of death. What hope would remain loyal
then? What help would be at hand?
In the waves and mighty waters
No one will support my head,
But my Saviour, my Belovèd,
Who was stricken in my stead:
In the cold and mortal river
He will hold my head above;
I shall through the waves go singing
For one look of Him I love!
A touching incident has given to this verse the
title of 'The Miners' Hymn.' In the mouth of
April, 1877, a colliery at Cymmer, in the Rhondda
Valley, was flooded, and fourteen miners found
themselves in a prison of darkness and terror,
waiting helplessly for death. The whole nation
seemed to turn its thought towards that coal-pit,
and every day made the suspense more painful.
The rescue-party toiled manfully day and night;
and when seven days had passed without any
reward to their labour, the last hope was almost
given up. But on the eighth day nine of those
imprisoned were found: and they were alive,
though exhausted to the verge of death. Without
air, without food, despair would have driven them
mad were it not for the above hymn, which
they sang over and over again with a feeling of
terrible reality. 'The waves and mighty waters'
were there; so was their Saviour, their Beloved.
And they sang for one look of Him!