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David Williams

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?

79

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!

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