William Williams, Pantycelyn is generally acknowledged as Wales's most important hymn writer. He was also one of the key leaders of early Methodism in our country and a renowned poet and author. Today he is considered to be one of our greatest writers.
Williams was born in 1717 in Cefn-coed in the parish of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn, Carmarthenshire. He was educated locally and intended to become a doctor. This changed in 1737 when he had a religious conversion while listening to Howel Harris (1714-73), the evangelical reformer, preaching in Talgarth in 1737. He took deacon's orders in 1740 and was appointed curate to Theophilus Evans (1693-1767) in the parishes of Llanwrtyd, Llanfihangel Abergwesyn and Llanddewi Abergwesyn. Because of his Methodist activities he was refused ordination as a priest and from then on he committed himself entirely to that movement. He travelled throughout the country preaching and establishing seiadau (local fellowships of Methodist people). He died in 1791, and a copy of his will can be viewed on the Library’s website (SD/1791/107).
‘Williams of Pantycelyn’ was the chief hymn-writer of the Methodist awakening in Wales, and nearly 1000 were published during his lifetime. Much of the success of Welsh Methodism can be attributed to the popularity of his hymns. He published his first volume of hymns, Aleluia in 1744 and he continued to publish volumes of hymns in Welsh and English in this order: Aleluia (six parts between 1744 and 1747, and in one volume in 1749); Hosanna i Fab Dafydd (1751-1754), and an English collection, Hosannah to the Son of David (1759); Rhai Hymnau a Chaniadau Duwiol (1757); Caniadau (y rhai sydd ar y môr o wydr) (1762); Ffarwel Weledig, groesaw anweledig bethau (3 parts, 1763-1769, and in one volume Haleluia Drachefn, c. 1790); Gloria yn Excelsis (2 parts, 1771 and 1772, as well as an English collection of the same name, 1772); Ychydig Hymnau (1774) and Rhai Hymnau Newyddion (1781-1787). Although the quality of his work is uneven, Pantycelyn is considered Wales's most important hymn writer because of the symbolic richness and directness of his work.
As well as hymns, he composed 2 epic poems Golwg ar Deyrnas Crist (1756) and Bywyd a Marwolaeth Theomemphus (1764), and volumes of shorter poems. He also wrote about twenty-eight elegies, the most well known to his fellow Methodists Howel Harris and Daniel Rowland.
He also turned his hand to prose in order to promote the spiritual development of his fellow Methodists, such as Llythyr Martha Philopur (1762) and Atteb Philo-Evangelius (1763); Crocodil Afon yr Aipht (1767); Tri Wyr o Sodoma'r Aipht (1768); Liber Miscellaneorum (1773); Ductor Nuptiarum: Neu, Gyfarwyddwr Priodas, (1777); Templum experientiae apertum, neu, Ddrws y society profiad (1777) and Pantheologia, Neu Hanes Holl Grefyddau'r Byd published in parts between 1762 and 1778. Pantheologia discusses world religions and contains geographical, historical and natural descriptions from all parts of the world. He also had a keen interest in the sciences, as can be seen in his volume Aurora Borealis (1774), which is in part a description of the 'Northern Lights'.
By the time of his death in 1791 he had published almost 90 books and pamphlets. In 2017 to celebrate three hundred years since his birth, the National Library of Wales digitized all of William Williams Pantycelyn's published works, as well as two of his manuscripts. The collection, which contains over 4,000 pages, will be the basis for raising awareness of the author and hymnwriter's contribution to the life of Wales and the world, and will be a great resource for anyone studying or interested in his work.
The list below contains all published works of William Williams held in the National Library of Wales.
Aleluja, neu, casgljad o hymnau ar amryw ystyrjaethau. [Y Rhan Gyntaf] 1744 W.s. 1744 (10)
Aleluja ... Yr ail argraphjad. [o'r rhan 1af] 1744 W.s. 1744 (11)
Aleluia ... Yr ail rhan. 1745 W.s. 1744 (10)
Aleluia ... Y drydydd rhan. 1745 W.s. 1744 (10)
Aleluia ... Y bedwaredd ran. 1745 W.s. 1746 (6)
Aleluia ... Y pummed ran. 1747 W.s. 1747 (10)
Aleluia ... Y chweched ran. 1747 W.s. 1747 (11)
Aleluia, neu, gascliad o hymnau. (Gan mwyaf) o waith . . . William Williams. Yr ail argraphiad [Ymddangosiad cyntaf y chwe rhan mewn un gyfrol] 1749 2010 XA 587
Hosanna i fab Dafydd, neu gasgliad o hymnau. 1751 W.s. 1751 (4)
Hosanna i fab Dafydd, neu gasgliad o hymnau ... Yr ail ran. 1753 W.s. 1753 (3)
Rhai hymnau a chaniadau duwiol ar amryw ystyrjaethau. 1757 XAC908 (4)
Siccrwydd ffydd, ... Yr Ail Argraffiad. 1760 W.b. 5839
Pantheologia, neu hanes holl grefyddau'r byd; ... 1762 OXA 924
Atteb Philo-Evangelius i Martha Philopur. 1763 OXA977
Caniadau y rhai sydd ar y mor o wydr, &c. i frenhin y Saint ... Yr ail argraphiad. 1763 XAC909 (JHD 251/4)
Yr Hymnau a 'chwanegwyd [at arg. cyntaf Caniadau ... y mor o wydr]. 1763 No copy of this work available at the National Library of Wales
Ffarwel weledig, groesaw anweledig bethau neu rhai hymnau o fawl i Dduw a'r Oen. 1763 W.s. 1763 (6b)
Bywyd a marwolaeth Theomemphus, o'i enedigaeth i'w fedd. 1764 W.s. 1764 (17)
Golwg ar deyrnas Crist ... Yr ail argraphiad, ... 1764 W.b. 3702
Ffarwel weledig, groesaw anweledig bethau: ... Yr ail ran. 1766 W.s. 1766 (11)
Hanes llwyddiant diweddar yr Efengyl, a rhyfeddol waith Duw, ar eneidiau pobl yn North America: mewn llythyr oddiwrth y Parchedig Mr Buel, ... At yr hyn y chwanegwyd, can am werthfawrogrwydd y Bibl. 1766 OXB 450
Marwnad Anne Price, or Bronnydd, ym mhlwyf Llanfair ar y bryn ... yr hon a fu farw ... 1766, ... 1766 Gomer M. Roberts 50
Hanes bywyd a marwolaeth tri wyr o Sodom a'r Aipht ... 1768 XPB2298.W728
Ffarwel weledig, groesaw anweledig bethau: ... Y drydedd ran. 1769 W.s. 1769 (3)
Gloria in excelsis: neu hymnau o fawl i Dduw a'r Oen. Y rhan gyntaf. 1771 W.s. 1771 (17a)
Gloria in excelsis: neu hymnau o fawl i Dduw a'r Oen. Yr ail ran. 1772 W.s. 1772 (4)
Gloria in excelsis: or hymns of praise to God and the Lamb. 1772 W.s. 1772 (6)
Liber miscellaneorum, neu lyfr amrywioldeb, 1773 W.s. 1771 (14/13)
Ychydig hymnau, ar fesur newydd. 1774 W.s. 1774 (1)
Aleluia, neu lyfr o hymnau: ... Y pedwarydd argraphiad. 1775 W.b. 134
Berr hanes o'r pethau mwyaf hynod ym mywyd James Albert Ukawsaw Groniosaw, Tywysog o Affrica: fel yr adroddwyd ganddo ef ei hun. [Wedi ei gyfieithu gan W. Williams] ... Yr ail argraphiad. 1780 OXB 442
An Elegy on the much lamented death of Miss Eliza Price, daughter of the late G. Price, Esq. of Pigionsford, in the Parish of Llangyranog, Cardiganshire, who died ... 1780 ... Marwnad Miss Eliza Price, o Ryd-y-Colommenod ... 1780 No copy of this work available at the National Library of Wales
Bywyd a marwolaeth Theomemphus ... Yr ail argraphiad. 1781 Col.14142
Marwnad Mr. Abraham Wood ... a ymadawodd a'r byd ym Mis Awst, 1779. A marwnad Mrs. Margaret Wood ... a ymadawodd a'r byd ym Mis Mai, 1781. 1781 No copy of this work available at the National Library of Wales
Rhai hymnau newyddion,—ar fersurau newyddion: ... 1781 Col. 5120
Rhai hymnau newyddion ... Yr ail argraphiad. 1781 OXA 1098
Rhai hymnau newyddion ... Y trydydd argraphiad. 1781 W.s. 1781 (20)
Galarnad ar farwolaeth Mari, gwraig John Jones, o Landilo-fach, yn Sir Forganwg, yr hon a fu farw ... 1781.—Ynghyd a Galarnad am John Philip, o Lwyngyfarthwch, yn agos i Lanelli ... yr hwn ... a fu farw o ddautu yr un amser. 1782 No copy of this work available at the National Library of Wales
Rhai hymnau newyddion, ... 1782 OXB 425
Rhai hymnau newyddion ... Yr ail argraphiad. 1782 W.s.1782 (9a)
Marwnad Llewelin Ddafydd, o Blwy-Llywel, yn Sir Frecheiniog, ... 1783 Gomer M. Roberts 59
Atteb i wr bonheddig, a geisiodd brydyddu senn, ... 1784 W.s. 1784 (5)
Darluniad gras, a serchiadau natur; yn gweithio mewn siomedigaeth, ofn, galar a hiraeth, ym mhrofiadau Mrs. Margaret Lloyd ... yn achos claddedigaeth mab bychan iddi ... At ba un y chwanegwyd, Rhai gwersi ar farwolaeth John Evans, Pregethwr yr Efengyl, yr hwn a fu farw ... 1784. A Rhai gwersi ar farwolaeth William John, o Llywele-Mawr, ... 1785 OXB 430
Marwnad ar y Parchedig Mr. William Davies o Gastell Nedd; yr hwn a ymadawodd a'r byd ... 1787, ... 1787 Gomer M. Roberts 52
Rhai hymnau newyddion, ar fesurau newyddion 1787 W.s. 1787 (11)
Rhai hymnau newyddion, ... [argraffiad gwahanol: LW5535] 1787 XPB2298 W728
A Serious address, presented to the consideration of all charitable and well-disposed Christians, for contributing some part of their monied properties, to raise a small fund, to carry on Welsh Charity Schools: upon a similar plan with that established by the late ... Griffith Jones, and continued by Mrs. Bevan. = Annerch pryssur a difrifol, ... 1790 No copy of this work available at the National Library of Wales
Marwnad: y Parchedig Mr. Daniel Rowlands ... Yr ail argraphiad. 1791 W.s. 1791 (45)