All Through the Night for Harp and Clarinet

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page one of All Through the Night for Harp and Clarinet

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In its original Welsh (Cymraeg) version All Through The Night is better known as Ar Hyd Y Nos This sounds most beautiful when sung in its original Welsh language. There are many versions of this song, so Ill mention the tune first:

This Welsh folksong is sung to a tune which was collected by Edward Jones and his brother William Jones and first published in Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards in 1784, though the melody is undoubtedly a lot older. It is suggested that the first English lyrics were possibly written by the Romantic poet Amelia Opie (1769-1853) and was sung to the English setting, "Here beneath a willow weepeth poor Mary Ann."

The original Welsh lyrics for Ar hyd y nos were written by John Ceiriog Hughes (1832-1887). It has since been translated into several languages across the world, including English as All Through the Night. It is particularly difficult to translate Welsh literally into English, and this accounts for the plethora of versions. In addition it is very difficult to separate the huge range of verses to this song, penned by individuals around the world.

The Welsh harpist Edward Jones (1752-1824), Bardd y Brenin (The King's Bard) was born at Henblas, Llandderfel, Merioneth and died in London in 1824. Edward Jones was appointed as the king's harpist from 1783 to 1787 and produced more than twenty musical publications, including his popular 'The musical and poetical relicks of the Welsh bards' first published in 1784. He was often regarded as a little eccentric by his family and when he travelled to his musical engagements by Hansom cab, his harp would always travel on the inside while he rode on the footplate. This was, apparently, a contributory factor in his death after he got a good soaking. Despite his popularity as a tutor to the nobility and gentry of London, he died penniless.

An excellent account of the bard's life is available from the Welsh folk dance society in a bilingual publication titled 'dawnsiau bardd y brenin' (2002). There is also a good account of Edward Jones by his great-granddaughter at:

Edward Jones collected a huge library of Welsh music and the tune which became Ar hyd y nos was collected by Edward and his brother William.

Evan James, a weaver from Mid Glamorgan, wrote a version of the Lyrics in 1856. Sir Harold Boulton also wrote a popular version in 1884. But the most reliable translation of John Ceiriog Hughes poem into English is by J. Mark Sugars. This constitutes verses 1 and 2 in my version of the song. Evan James (1809 - 1878) version is represented by verses 3 and 4 in my version of the song. Sir Harold Boulton is responsible for verses 5 and 6.

Since the 19th century numerous alternative verses have been written for this universally loved melody in many different languages and is popular in Germany as In stiller Nacht. The song is highly representative of the Welsh choral tradition.

My version of the tune in this version is on the instrument it was originally intended for, the harp, but accompanied in this instance by a Clarinet which is similar in sound to the ancient Welsh wind instrument, the Pibgorn. . In `Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards' (1784), Edward Jones, `Bardd y Brenin' wrote: "Its tone is a medium between the flute and the clarinet, and is remarkable for its melody… In fact, this testimony of its sound bears little similarity to reality.

As with all my arrangements, the human voice is uppermost in my mind (but MIDI voices do not reproduce well) and this tune can be sung using the lyrics I have provided at the end of the score. The Clarinet/Pibgorn part can, of course, be replaced with almost any instrument.

The Original Lyrics by John Ceiriog Hughes:

Welsh: Holl amrantau'r s�r ddywedant Ar hyd y nos. Dyma'r ffordd i fro gogoniant Ar hyd y nos. Golau arall yw tywyllwch, I arddangos gwir brydferthwch, Teulu'r nefoedd mewn tawelwch Ar hyd y nos.

O mor siriol gwena seren Ar hyd y nos, I oleuo'i chwaer ddaearen Ar hyd y nos, Nos yw henaint pan ddaw cystudd, Ond i harddu dyn a'i hwyrddydd Rhown ein golau gwan i'n gilydd Ar hyd y nos.

English: All the star's eyelids say, All through the night, "This is the way to the valley of glory," All through the night. Any other light is darkness, To exhibit true beauty, The Heavenly family in peace, All through the night.

O how cheerful smiles the star, All through the night, To light its earthly sister, All through the night. Old age is night when affliction comes, But to beautify man in his late days, We'll put our weak light together, All through the night.

This song is almost unique in that the verses can be sung in any order.

All lyrics and a history of this song can be found in the references below: Edward Jones Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1784) William Jones and the manuscripts: Amelia Opie (1769-1853) John Ceiriog Hughes 1832-1887 Evan Ieuan ap Iago James (1809 - 1878) Sir Harold Boulton (1859 - 1935)

Score ID
John Ceiriog Hughes
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
2 minutes
Solo instrument (Clarinet in Bb)
World music

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