Daniel James 1848-1920
Ganed Yn Nhreboeth
Born in Treboeth
Claddwyd ym Mynyddbach
Buried in Mynyddbach
Awdur ‘Calon Lan’
Author of Calon Lan
“Calon Lan yn llawn daioni
Tecach yw na’r lili dlos
Dim ond Calon Lan all ganu
Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos.”
The bronze plaque of Gwyrosydd in the wall of Treboeth Public Hall
This plaque was removed in October 2012 for security reasons, plans are now being arranged to resite the heavy bronze casting in the entrance hall of Mynyddbach Chapel
Facts about Gwyrosydd, the author of popular 'Calon Lan'
Daniel James, Gwyrosydd, was born in Treboeth on 23rd January 1848. He died at Tanylan, Morriston on 16th March 1920 and was buried in the graveyard at his beloved Mynyddbach.
His bardic title was taken from the old Welsh name of Oystermouth Castle.
'Calon Lan', a simple sweet song with a swinging refrain, has been sung around the world. If the author had composed half a dozen eisteddfodic prize-winning pryddestau, he would not have served his countrymen so well, and his name would not have been so widely cherished.
Gwyrosydd is known by the hymn into which, in a moment of rare inspiration, he composed all the deepest longings of the human heart for the consecrated life. His Landore friend John Hughes composed the tune.
Treboeth grew too small for it. It spread like a great fire all over Wales and to Welsh communities overseas. Our soldiers marched to war with the nostalgic words on their lips. Military camps and troop trains resounded with it. Returning soldiers brought home stories of the strange places where they had heard it.
America held a Cymanfa Ganu at McKinley Memorial Auditorium, Niles, Ohio, where 'Calon Lan' was among the favourite old hymns sung by a multitude of Welsh people from all parts of the States. Some of those present had travelled from four hundred to a thousand miles to be present.
For a time, the poet worked as a traffic manager at Landore tinplate works; but after his second marriage to the widow Gwenny Parry, he moved to Blaengarw, where he worked as a miner. He was the father of seven children and he became stepfather to Gwen Parry's four children.
During a spell of unemployment at Blaengarw, T. Glyndwr Richards, conductor of the famous Mountain Ash Male Voice Choir, found him work at Mountain Ash. He finished in the mines in 1916 and returned to Morriston to live with his youngest daughter from his first marriage, Olwen Longstaff, and her husband.
Critics of his fondness for drink received their reply in 'Taflu Cerrig.'
Mae taflu cerrig yn ein byd
Yn rhy gyffredin nawr,
Mae'n resyn gweled rhai a'u bryd etc, etc
His love of children was proverbial. His 'Calon Lan' may have been written for them and it is a fitting memorial, for it soon became the children's anthem.
He was in the habit of composing verse to his friends' children. One little boy he addressed: -
Albert Williams ddengar mad
Does dy bertach yn y wlad. etc, etc.
Albert Williams lived to spend the prime years of his live as a missionary in the heart of Africa and then as pastor in a busy industrial centre.
Alwyn, a grandson of a friend, received an englyn on a postcard: -
Annwyl wyt o angel iach - ni welir
Yn Ngwalia siriolach.
Ni luniodd Duw dy lanach -
Ei lun byw wyt Alwyn bach.
Mynyddbach was written on his heart and he left some verses reminiscent of his upbringing.
Myn'd yn llaw fy nhad yn blentyn
I Mynydd Bach.
D'od yn ol i mam a'r testyn
O Mynydd Bach.
Os ce's fyw i dd'od yn henach,
Ni che's fiwsig yn bereiddiach
Na sain clychau Llangyfelach
Ar Mynydd Bach.
He had his wish. Sixteen years later, on 26th September 1936, a bronze tablet to Gwyrosydd's immortal memory was unveiled at Treboeth's Public Hall.