Arglwydd arwain trwy'r anialwch

Author: William Williams

William Williams, called the "Watts of Wales," was born in 1717, at Cefn-y-coed, near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. He originally studied medicine, but abandoned it for theology. He was ordained Deacon in the Church of England, but was refused Priest's Orders, and subsequently attached himself to the Calvinistic Methodists. For half a century he travelled in Wales, preaching the Gospel. He died in 1791. Williams composed his hymns chiefly in the Welsh language; they are still largely used by various religious bodies in the principality. Many of his hymns have appeared in English, and have been collected and published by Sedgwick. His two principal poetical works are "Hosannah to the Son of David," and "Gloria in Excelsis." --Annotati… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Arglwydd arwain trwy'r anialwch
Author: William Williams
Language: Welsh


Arglwydd arwain trwy'r anialwch. W. Williams. [Strength to pass through the Wilderness.] This was published in the first edition of the author's Alleluia, Bristol, 1745, in 5 stanzas of 6 lines. The first translation of a part of this hymn into English was by Peter Williams, in his Hymns on Various Subjects (vii.), Together with The Novice Instructed: Being an abstract of a letter written to a Friend. By the Bev. P. Williams, Carmarthen, 1771, Printed for the author.
W. Williams himself adopted the translation of stanza i., ii., iii. and iv. into English, added a fourth stanza, and printed them as a leaflet as follows:—

"A Favourite Hymn,
sung by
Lady Huntingdon's Young Collegians.
Printed by the desire of many Christian friends.
Lord, give it Thy blessing.

“Guide me, 0 Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow'rful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.

"Open now the chrystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey thro:
Strong Deliv'rer, strong Deliv'rer,
Be Thou still my strength and shield.

"When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee.

"Musing on my habitation,
Musing on my heav'nly home,
Fills my soul with holy longings:
Come, my Jesus, quickly come;
Vanity is all I see;
Lord, I long to be with Thee!"

This leaflet was undated, but was c. 1772. During the same or the following year, it was included in the Lady H. Collection, 5th ed., Bath, W. Gye, No. 94. Stanzas i.-iii. had previously appeared in The Collection of Hymns sung in the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapels in Sussex. Edinburgh: Printed by A. Donaldson, for William Balcombe, Angmoring, Sussex, No. 202. This is undated; but Mr. Brooke's copy contains the autograph, "Elizabt. Featherstonehaugh, 1772," the writing and ink of which show it to be genuine. We can safely date it 1771. It was repeated in G. Whitefield's Psalms & Hymns, 1773; inConyers, 1774, and others, until it has become one of the most extensively used hymns in the English language.
This hymn in one form or another has been rendered into many languages, but invariably from the English. These translations included the Bev. B. Bingham's rendering into Latin, "Magne tu, Jehova," of the 3 stanza arrangement, given with the English text, in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871.

--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)




The popularity of Williams's text ("Guide me, O thou great Jehovah") is undoubtedly aided by its association with CWM RHONDDA, composed in 1905 by John Hughes (b. Dowlais, Glamorganshire, Wales, 1873; d. Llantwit Fardre, Wales, 1932) during a church service for a Baptist Cymanfa Ganu (song festival)…

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Welsh and English Hymns and Anthems #40
Include 2 pre-1979 instances