Mentra Gwen (1)

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MENTRA GWEN [1] (Fair Gwen). Welsh, Air (3/4 time). The tune appears in Blind Parry's Twelve Airs for one and two Guitars, 1781 edition. Blind John Parry of Rhuabon died the year after the collection was issued, in 1782. Joseph Haydn composed a setting of the song, which appears in his Welsh Songs for Georg Thomson III. A letter-writer, whose epistle appears in The Cambro-Briton, Volume 3 (1821, p. 273), remarked:

Sir,--"Mentra Gwen," Venture Gwen, is a peculiarly elegant melody, and possesses much originality; though the last eight bars are very similar to "The Melody of North Wales." Yet the commencement is strikingly novel. The words, adapted to it by Mr. J. Jones, are very appropriate; it is a serenade called "Ellen Dear." The note, which accompanies it, may amuse those who are strangers to the ancient customs of the Cymry; I shall therefore transcribt it:--

Serenading used to be very prevalent in Wales formerly. There is still a curious custom on May-day morning, when the swains deck a bough of rosemary with white ribbands, &c. and place it at the chamber-window of the fair ones whom they admire. But a different present is left at the doors of those, whom they are not on friendly terms with: a penglog, i.e. a latch, to the no small annoyance, and even disgrace, of the nymphs, who are anxiously looking out for the "Garland of Love."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources:

Recorded sources: Edison Blue Amberol Record ‎– 14213 (cylinder), R. Festyn Davis (1921).

See also listing at:
Hear the 1921 cylinder recording of the song by R. Festyn Davis at the Internet Archive [1] [2]




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