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-Two hundred years ago
-in the heart of Montgomery...
-..some of our nation's famous hymns
-were penned by a special young lady.
-Her poems are excellent
-and totally unique.
-was a great, religious woman...
-"..and this is no exaggeration."
-She's a remarkable writer...
-..and is classed among
-the top fifteen writers of Wales.
-There's a new interest
-in Ann Griffiths' work.
-Her 30 hymns are classed among
-the best in the world.
-Is her work even more significant?
-Was she more poet than hymn writer?
-Is any other poet so prominent
-in our nation's every day life?
-Ann Griffiths' words for
-Wele'n Sefyll Rhwng y Myrtwydd...
-..has transcended chapel walls
-and is a favourite on many stages.
-# There he stands among the myrtles
-# Worthiest object of my love #
-It's instantly recognizable
-as a hymn by Ann.
-by a deep feeling of love.
-This boundless love
-for Jesus Christ.
-# One glad morning
-# One glad morning #
-There's a danger that we devalue
-any poetry that is set to music.
-We cannot do this with Ann Griffiths
-because the words stands alone.
-# In his love through all my days
-# My days
-# My days #
-We all know Ann Griffiths' story.
-She was born and raised
-at Dolwar Fach.
-She lost her mother at 17 and
-had a religious conversion at 20.
-She married, had a child
-and died before she turned 30.
-It's no wonder this short, tragic
-life attracts so much curiosity.
-How much do we really know
-How did she create such masterpieces
-in her short life?
-The best set of records are found at
-the National Library in Aberystwyth.
-None of Ann Griffiths' hymns
-were documented in her lifetime.
-Nothing was published...
-..and yet the National Library
-is home to 3,000 documents...
-..that are linked with her name.
-After her death...
-..people realized that the work of
-this ordinary girl was exceptional.
-Her close friend,
-Reverend John Hughes, Pontrobert...
-..penned her first biography.
-"We remember those amazing feats
-in Ann Griffiths' short career...
-"..because it was truly amazing.
-"Amazing in its qualities
-"Amazing in its scriptural facts
-and spiritual experiences.
-"And amazing in its love,
-gaiety and sanctity of life.
-"It was a crown of beauty
-for her profession of faith."
-Dolwar Fach was a comfortable home
-and the family was quite wealthy.
-Ann was educated locally and
-was obviously a talented child.
-She learnt some English
-but Welsh was her first language.
-The evidence suggests
-that she could write poetry...
-..and use Welsh metrical
-..which points to poetic tuition.
-However, I doubt she received
-a formal education.
-At the National Library...
-..there are documents that give us
-an insight into her early life.
-They include this book,
-The Book of Dolwar Fach.
-This proves that they were
-a cultural family.
-They wrote poetry
-and were immersed in the arts.
-We can see alliterative stanzas
-in this section.
-At the back of the book,
-on this page...
-..we find the signature
-of Ann Griffiths.
-Anne is written twice...
-..on the page where she would
-practice her handwriting.
-There's also a section of a letter,
-written in Ann's own hand.
-"Dearest sister in the Lord.
-"In accordance with your wish,
-I have written these lines to you."
-The handwriting is neat
-..and the language is flawless,
-poetic and Biblical.
-What type of woman was she?
-We don't have any pictures of Ann.
-Our only description of Ann
-is found in the book by John Hughes.
-"She had a delicate composition.
-"She had a high forehead
-and dark hair.
-"She was physically taller
-than the majority of other women.
-"Bright eyes sat on her skin.
-"And she had a majestic look
-she was easy to approach...
-"..and seek counsel."
-Those who remember her
-spoke of a lively character...
-..who was also very mischievous.
-She spoke her mind...
-..and we get the impression
-that she was a strong-willed person.
-At the Ann Griffiths Memorial Chapel
-..we find the only image
-of Ann's face.
-The details about her life
-and personality are limited.
-The only thing that has survived
-and stands to this day is her words.
-# God, make me like a tree
-# Well planted grow
-# In fertile ground
-# Where living waters flow #
-Ann lived in a world
-that was evolving...
-..thanks to the French Revolution
-and war and changes in religion.
-turned their backs on the church...
-..and sought spiritual guidance
-from the Methodists.
-..Ann enjoyed the gaiety of the fair
-and loved to dance.
-The pinnacle of the year
-was the parish saint's festival.
-During the festival of 1796...
-..Ann found herself
-in a very different place.
-Somewhere between the farm
-and the fair...
-..Ann passed a preaching meeting.
-The words of Reverend Benjamin Jones
-from Pwllheli moved her.
-Ann would never be the same again.
-# Wholly counter to my nature
-# Is the path ordained for me
-# Yet, I'll tread it,
-yes, and calmly
-# While thy precious face I see
-# Count the cross a crown,
-and bear it #
-Thousands were converted
-during the Methodist Revival.
-Ann found it an overwhelming
-and spiritual experience.
-It's believed that she endured
-an agonizing time.
-that throughout history...
-..women have to express
-..using sensory actions,
-such as singing or dancing.
-It isn't fundamentally
-a female thing...
-..but I witnessed women in India
-dancing and entering a trance...
-..while their husbands sat sedately.
-Intense spiritual experiences
-were not uncommon.
-It was a period of mystics and
-prophets who had many followers...
-..including some women.
-Joanna Southcott is one of the most
-recognized figures of the time.
-She was similar to Ann in that
-she was also a farmer's daughter...
-..who had very little schooling...
-..but was mesmerized
-by these mystical texts.
-She believed that anything that had
-been promised in the scriptures...
-..was achieved through her.
-Christ is central
-to Ann Griffiths' work...
-..but Joanna Southcott embodies
-the woman clothed with the sun...
-..in the Book of Revelation.
-# Lo, to us is born a Brother #
-Ann found her conversion
-..as she cast off her sins
-from the fair...
-..to express her new love
-"At times, she was so entranced
-that she shouted with elation.
-"Sometimes, her jubilant cries...
-"..were heard in the fields
-near her home."
-I wonder how she was viewed
-by her peers.
-She enjoyed the fair but was now
-talking about God and Jesus Christ.
-Some found her too vocal in meetings
-when she broke out in praise.
-She was accused of drawing attention
-She was a mesmerizing character.
-Two centuries later...
-..and her experience
-continues to inspire us.
-Her greatest feat...
-..is that she avoided any excessive
-use of theological terminology.
-They feel like love songs or poems
-that were written from the heart.
-It means that people from all walks
-of life can sing these words...
-..without having to share
-# Fount clear-flowing
-# Life bestowing
-# God our saving ark
-# Is he #
-It's been 200 years
-since the death of Ann Griffiths...
-..but there's a new interest
-in her work in Wales and beyond.
-When Rowan Williams
-became Archbishop of Canterbury...
-..he chose an Ann Griffiths hymn
-for his service.
-It introduced her work to the world.
-# Be my dwelling
-# Be my dwelling
-# In his love through all my days #
-Ann Griffiths' poems are complex...
-..when compared with other
-religious and spiritual poems...
-..by other women from that period.
-There are many differences.
-Other women tend to write poems...
-..that are very objective.
-They convey a message...
-..whilst Ann Griffiths' poems
-are very private.
-They were tools
-to aid her personal faith.
-in Ann's day were rare...
-..but are there feminine
-characteristics in her work?
-You don't instantly think
-that it's the work of a woman.
-This isn't a criticism
-but something praiseworthy.
-It means she's on a level plain
-with any male hymn writers...
-..or poets from that period.
-Ann met with other Methodists at the
-chapel of John Hughes, Pontrobert.
-Ann came here during
-the last five years of her life.
-Ann shared her spiritual experiences
-with her maid, Ruth.
-She was an integral part
-of Ann's legacy.
-# Gods pure name... #
-They were more like sisters
-or best friends...
-..as opposed to a mistress
-and her maid.
-Ruth often accused her...
-..of being carefree and playful.
-She enjoyed herself too much,
-whereas Ruth was very serious.
-# Vow, and pay my vows, receiving #
-Ruth was well versed in her Bible...
-..and felt that Ann didn't express
-this enough in her text.
-As opposed to sulking...
-..and putting her maid
-in her place...
-..Ann accepted Ruth's criticism.
-Ruth had a greater knowledge
-of the scripture...
-..so Ann made changes accordingly.
-Reverend John Hughes...
-..was one of the greatest
-influences on the young Ann.
-He was her mentor and treated her
-with respect, not as a young girl.
-They discussed theology
-and wrote to one another.
-They spoke about major issues
-as two equal individuals.
-They were two spirits.
-The principle message
-of Ann's hymns...
-this all-encompassing love.
-It's your spirit and what's inside
-Cardiff's Eglwys Y Crwys is home to
-a memorial window for Ann Griffiths.
-It attempts to portray her.
-We see her laughing
-with spiritual triumph...
-..and suffering from despair.
-The jubilation and sorrow
-of this unique person.
-# Wholly counter to my nature
-# Is the path ordained for me #
-What about Ann's style
-Was it completely impromptu
-or a painstakingly long process?
-It's still a contentious issue.
-"Ann once intended
-to write a diary...
-"..to keep a record of her visions
-"As opposed to achieving
-"..she started composing verses
-"If there was anything extraordinary
-on her mind...
-"..it was expressed in a hymn."
-# To the heavenly city goes #
-There are certain stories
-of her father and he would say...
-.."Ruth, our Nancy
-is starting to lose her mind."
-He was worried about her condition.
-Ruth would tell him not to worry.
-and everything will be alright.
-"Something is on its way."
-Ruth was referring to
-either a hymn or a poem.
-# Eye of kite could neer discern it
-# Though it shines
-with noontide blaze #
-Many have suggested that the words
-came from within...
-..and cascaded out of her.
-We see those words
-as they appeared to her.
-We have no reason to doubt this...
-..but there's room to believe
-that Ann knew about cynghanedd.
-She heard alliteration
-at the fairs...
-..when songs and poems
-I would put my head on the block
-and say she knew about alliteration.
-It's suggested that she recorded
-her experiences privately...
-..and shared the verses
-with her maid, Ruth.
-She remembered them...
-..and introduced them
-to a wider audience.
-that she thought of them as songs...
-..because she used the same metres
-as the likes of Pantycelyn.
-I'm sure that
-in her subconscious mind...
-..she echoed this notion of singing.
-# Sinner is my name and nature
-# Fouler none on earth can be #
-She fashioned her verses
-using the popular metres of the day.
-that at the back of her mind...
-..she thought someone, somewhere
-would sing her verses.
-# See him there,
-his law fulfilling #
-When singing her text today...
-..do we appreciate them or
-is the meaning lost in the melody?
-The Welsh enjoy a good melody...
-..and thrive on singing.
-However, I would prefer the emphasis
-to rest on understanding the lyrics.
-are difficult to interpret...
-..but it's worth studying them
-to find their true meaning.
-It's difficult to sing about
-..of those from a different era.
-They are not necessarily
-the same experiences.
-We can value their wealth...
-..and sense that they are intense
-and profound experiences...
-..but cannot necessarily
-express them from the heart.
-I suspect people do not regard the
-lyrics of a song as being poetry.
-It's viewed as a song
-as opposed to a poem.
-This is the general consensus
-in terms of the treatment of poetry.
-that these words are sung...
-..makes them far more memorable.
-There's no doubt
-that Ann Griffiths was a poet.
-Ann only had eight years
-to compose her poetry.
-A fortnight after the death
-of her first child in childbirth...
-..Ann, herself, died aged only 29.
-Ann was plagued with ill-health
-but she did not fear death.
-In her letter to Elizabeth,
-.."this is what cheers me more
-than anything else these days...
-"..not death in itself...
-"..but the great gain
-that is to be got through it."
-# O might I gain faiths insight
-# With angel-minds on high #
-She didn't record any of her hymns
-We're indebted to Ruth,
-who remembered them...
-..and John Hughes,
-who recorded them for all to see.
-In recent years, I've been amazed
-by the attention she has received...
-..outside of Wales.
-throughout the world.
-Her work has been translated
-People from America have even
-made the journey to come here.
-They want to know more after reading
-the translations of her hymns.
-Some have said that they
-didn't understand Ann's hymns.
-They felt they were old fashioned
-but this is not the case.
-is the perfect role model...
-..for young women
-who want to write poetry.
-She's a positive example
-for creative women.
-She isn't only godly
-but intelligent too.
-Ann and William Williams
-..are our two major hymn writers.
-The stand out difference for me...
-..is William Williams Pantycelyn
-was more aware of his craft...
-concentrated on her feelings...
-..and how she could improve herself.
-She was always
-putting herself down.
-I think she was just as good as
-any other poet from her era...
-..and modern times...
-..because she got to the root
-of the true experiences.
-Ann's story is enriched by the fact
-that she was a farmer's wife.
-Nancy Dolwar wasn't worthy of a
-painting or statue in her lifetime.
-Today, her work plays
-an integral role in Welsh life.
-the hymn writer and poet.
-S4C Subtitles by Tinopolis