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Watch: The Plygain Welsh carol singing video that has gone viral

24 Dec 2022 2 minute read
Plygain singers (Credit: BBC Cymru Wales)

A video of the traditional form of Welsh carol singing has gone viral with thousands loving the beautiful sound of Welsh language Christmas carols.

One of Wales’ oldest Christmas traditions, Plygain is a traditional Welsh Christmas service which takes place in a church between three and six o’clock on Christmas morning.

It was first recorded in the 13th century but believed to be older – and possibly comes from the Latin word pullicantio, meaning ‘when the cock crows at dawn’.

The tradition of singing Plygain carols to celebrate Christmas has continued consistently in many parts of Wales.

When Twitter user Owen Williams, the former head of social media at BBC Wales, posted the video of Plygain singing he was thrilled with the reactions from around the globe.

One Australian Twitter user said: “I have never heard anything like this in my life, so beautiful. As a descendant of Irish Celts this stirred my soul, thank you.”

While a Canadian tweeted: “Gorgeous! Connects to the Welsh heritage in my soul.”

Spine-tingling

Owen, who now runs social media agency Siml, explained how he came across the videos.

“I remember former Yr Ods singer Gruff Pritchard, content editor at BBC Cymru, putting this on the Radio Cymru social channels in 2016 or so, and asking me if I’d consider sharing it to the BBC Wales channels. I was transfixed.

“Here were three men singing century-old songs in the most beautiful, three-part harmony I’d ever heard. It was like being submerged in a rich half-forgotten, barely-remembered historic corner of my culture.

“I knew – at that moment – that the world needed to experience Plygain. And every Christmas, I make it my mission to expose even more people to that unbelievable, goosebump-raising, spine-tingling sound.”


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Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago

There’s quite a bit of good plygain on YouTube.

Jeremy Fairchild
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Penyllion I find.

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
1 month ago

I have an old Sain album of traditional Plygain singing in Mallwyd church – incredibly beautiful, harmonic and uplifting. Plygain singing is definitely on the up and up; my all-time favourite is ‘Ar Gyfer Heddiw’r Bore’ (On This Day’s Morning), one of the Llantrisant Mari Lwyd’s traditional plygain carols. Thanks also to Steven Rees, Gwilym Rhys Bowen and the other plygain singer (absolute apologies, don’t know his name) – keep on singing in breath-taking, fabulous harmony!

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