Calon Lân is a Welsh hymn, the words of which were written in the 1800s by Daniel James (23 January 1848 – 11 March 1920) to a tune by John Hughes (1872-1914).
The hymn is very rarely performed in churches. It’s more often associated with Welsh rugby union, being sung before almost every Test match involving the Welsh national team.
“Calon Lân” is unusual among the most popular Welsh traditional hymns and songs in that an English version of the words is not commonly sung. The following English version is one I wrote years ago. It was set to music by Arthur Bellis of Burnage, and performed by a 1000 Male Voice choir at GMex in Manchester. It is sometimes performed by choirs in North West England.
The words were used for the subtitles on Songs of Praise (4/3/2012) where it was sung by Only Boys Aloud.
Calon Lân English Translation
An arrangement of these lyrics has been made by Arthur Bellis
I’d not ask a life that’s easy,
Gold and pearls so little mean,
Rather seek a heart that’s joyful,
Heart that’s honest, heart that’s clean
Heart that’s clean and filled with virtue,
Fairer far than lilies white,
Only pure hearts praise God truly,
Praise him all the day and night.
Why should I seek earthly treasures,
On swift wings they fly away,
Pure clean hearts bring greater riches
That for life eternal stay.
Dawn and sunset still I’m searching,
Rising on a wing of song,
Give me Lord, through Christ my Saviour
That clean heart for which I long.
Translation ©Malcolm Cowen 2008
“The Berwick Male Voice Choir performed a new arrangement of Calon Lan (using this translation) Friday 25th October 2013 in St Andrew’s Wallace Green Church, Berwick-upon-Tweed. This event was in aid of the 10th Anniversary of the local hospice (Marsden House)”
“The Aurora ladies choir will be singing your translation at their concert 25th May 2013 at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield.”
“May we use this translation at our wedding” – ST 11/4/2013
“I have just completed an arrangement of Calon Lan. I was so taken with your beautiful translation that I write to ask permission to use it in my arrangement for the Berwick Male Voice Choir.” Robin F Cheer (conductor BMVC). 9/4/2013
“It went down very well thanks – lots of people saying that they had heard the tune so many but did not realise what the words meant. ” Mark, South Molton, 16/11/2012
“We would very much like to use your words for Calon Lan at my father’s funeral, as it was one of his favourite tunes. ” Shirley from Surrey 31/8/2012
“I came across your brilliant translation in the >Wikipedia entry about the song, and was wondering if you would be happy >for me to include your version in my account, with appropriate attribution >and thanks.” www.daibach-welldigger.blogspot.com ; 14/8/2012
“Our congregation enjoyed it very much.” Kingsbridge Methodist, Devon, UK; 9/8/2012
“Thank you for your English translation of Calon Lan; I will be using it for the final service of our pastor…. Our men’s ensemble called A-Men will be singing it in the “Only Boys Aloud” fashion…I only wish we had as many as they! Jim Anderson, Advent United Methodist Church Address; Eagan, Minnesota; 26/5/2012
“CALON LAN song so AMAZING , every time to play this song I’m always cry every words or lyrics of this song so very touching.” Quezon City Philippines ; 5/4/2012
“Its so faithful to the piety in the original and so historically consistent with the original. ” British Columbia, 17/2/2012
“Just want to say thank you for making lyrics and translation for Calon Lan available on internet. ” Wessex 4/5/2011