Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Row over Welsh language provision at Wales’ premier Cathedral

13 Jul 2023 4 minute read
St Davids Cathedral. Photo Mark Mansfield

Martin Shipton

Concerns have been raised about an apparent decline in the provision for Welsh speakers at Wales’ premier Cathedral at St Davids.

Retired public affairs executive John Pockett, a longstanding Anglican who lives in Pontypridd, raised the issue on Twitter after reading a list of services for a week that gave no indication of any Welsh content.

He tweeted: “Do I read this correctly – there is no provision for Welsh speaking worshippers, or indeed, anyone, to receive communion in Welsh at Wales’ premier cathedral, dedicated to our Patron Saint (and St Andrew)? If so, the anglicisation of the @ChurchinWales is complete.”

Gwilym Dafydd from Cardiff commented: “They are working hard to ensure a million Welsh speakers there by the middle of the century!”, to which Mr Pockett responded: “I don’t see that the Church in Wales is doing much at all to achieve that goal by curtailing Welsh in our main Cathedral. And me speaking as a former Welsh tutor at Coleg Mihangel Sant in Llandaf over 35 years ago!”

We sought comment from St Davids Cathedral, and a spokeswoman said: “Our Welsh language, culture and heritage have always been integral to our worship and practice at St Davids Cathedral, with increasing use in recent years. We are committed to using Welsh in all our services – from our daily Offices and Eucharists, to services for national occasions, which are generally bilingual. Currently we hold a wholly Welsh-language Communion service once a month. We also have a significant number of Welsh speakers and learners among our clergy and lay leaders.”

Irrefutable

Mr Pockett responded:”I fail to see how the Cathedral can say that the use of Welsh has increased. What’s the extra use to which they refer? The only concrete thing that is irrefutable is that there always was a 09.30 Welsh Eucharist every week, which attracted a number of Welsh speakers. It’s now once monthly, so that’s a 75% reduction. I’ve not detected any increase in the use of Welsh in their normal run of services, including the broadcast Choral Evensong on Radio 3.

“National services, which the Cathedral mentions, would always be bilingual, in any case, just as they always are wherever they’re held, usually in Llandaf Cathedral. And on a weekly basis, until the pandemic, there were two Welsh services in Llandaf each week – now reduced to one.

“I’ve had a direct response to my tweet from a Welsh speaker from Cardiff who says he goes to St Davids once a year and he notes that there are virtually no Welsh notices or information of services etc readily available.”

Responding further to Mr Pockett, the spokeswoman for St Davids Cathedral said: “Our Welsh language, culture and heritage have always been integral to our worship and practice at St Davids Cathedral, with increasing use in recent years. We are committed to using Welsh in all our services – from our daily Offices and Eucharists, to services for diocesan and national occasions, which are generally bilingual.

“Currently we hold a wholly Welsh-language Communion service once a month – a frequency agreed with those who regularly attend. However, we are stepping away from just ‘English’ or just ‘Welsh’ services in favour of weaving both languages through all our services, supported with bilingual service booklets. We believe this approach encourages everyone to engage with Welsh, including the large numbers of visitors who join us from outside Wales and from overseas.

“We review our services regularly and if there were demand for more Welsh-only services we would, of course, respond. We are fortunate in having a significant number of Welsh speakers and learners among our residential clergy and lay leaders. In February 2023 we appointed a new Canon Pastor who is a fluent Welsh speaker.

“The Revd Canon Sheridan Angharad James is keen to develop and grow Cymun y Plwyf, as well as support the increase in the use of Welsh in the other services. Having a natural Welsh-speaker on the team is increasing the use of Welsh within the Cathedral in formal and informal settings. She also sits on the Diocesan Committee for Welsh culture and bilingualism and will be looking over the next year to implement strategies developed by that committee at the Cathedral.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon_S
Jon_S
9 months ago

While it is a pity, the heart of the problem is surely that it isn’t worshippers at the cathedral who are complaining about the lack of Welsh language provision, but somebody commenting from a distance? Presumably the weekly service was dropped through lack of interest. Use it or lose it.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
8 months ago
Reply to  Jon_S

I’d always known that South Pembrokeshire is one of the least Welsh-speaking areas of Wales (although it’s no Blaenau Gwent), I always thought the area round St Davids was in the more Welsh speaking part of the county, above the Landsker.
I do wonder who attends such a large cathedral in such a small place. You’ve got small parish churches like St Anne’s in Nant-y-Glo down to congregations of 3 or 4 and facing closure, yet a huge cathedral in a de-facto village seems to be just fine.

Jon_S
Jon_S
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Thomas

During holiday periods it’s heaving, though that will mostly be tourists, of course. I suspect it’s a very different story in the depths of winter.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
9 months ago

Eglwys Loegr yng Nghymru. Wedi hen golli ei ffordd.

Rev Ian M. Thomas
Rev Ian M. Thomas
8 months ago

Cywilyddus! Pan oeddwn i’n Is-Ganon yn y Gadeirlan yn Nhy Ddewi yn y saith degau, roedd ‘na offeren Gymraeg oedd yn denu niferoedd sylweddol yn wythnosol am 9.30 ar fore Sul yng Nghapel y Forwyn- yr un amser a’r offeren Saesneg yng Nghorff yr Eglwys.. Y sefyllfa presennol yn ganlyniad anochel i’r polisi o apwyntio offeiriaid di-Gymraeg i’r safleoedd uchelaf yn Esgobaeth Ty Ddewi, ac yn wir, ar hyd a lled yr Eglwys yng Nghymru – Esgobion, Deoniaid, Archddiaconiaid a bron pob swydd dylanwadol arall. Mae’r Eglwys wedi troi ei chefn ar Gymru a Chymreictod – ac mae’r Cymry (a’r… Read more »

Frank
Frank
8 months ago

Pwynt da.

Bachgen o Lerpwl
8 months ago

Eglwys dyn o Sir Benfro llawer dydd yn ol.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
8 months ago

Trueni mawr iawn, a’r Eglwys sefydledig wedi cynhyrchu y fath doreth o bersoniaid llengar yma yma yng Nghymru – cyn ac ar ôl y Datcysylltiad.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

The highest Churchman in the UK speaks in ‘Tongues’,

Prayers, I presume, are in one’s first language…

A few recusants still use the Latin…

Two trips to St Davids equals one pilgrimage to Rome…

Eucumenical is a church word but it can be applied to language…

John Howard Edwards
John Howard Edwards
8 months ago

Dylai pob esgob yn yr Eglwys yng Nghymru feddu ar y gallu i siarad Cymraeg cyn ei benodi/phenodi.
Mae’r iaith yn cael ei hesgeuluso mewn sawl ffordd, gan gynnwys gwefannau esgobaethol uniaith Saesneg.

Dark Mrakeford
Dark Mrakeford
8 months ago

Religion served its purpose in Wales in the early days of anglicisation. But with religion on the decline and irreligion becoming the majority ‘belief’ in Wales its importance in the institution of church is little. Broader appeal to more modern uses of Welsh are better to spend time on.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
8 months ago

Constitutionally, the Anglican Church in Wales may have been disestablished 100 years ago. But culturally, it remains fundamentally an English state institution.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
8 months ago

Was the row in Welsh or English?
Just asking

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.