Hymn writer Isalaw’s birthplace

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Hymn writer Isalaw’s birthplace, Beach Road, Bangor

The prolific Victorian hymn writer John Richards, whose bardic name was Isalaw, was born in this house in 1843. As a young man he and a friend, Thomas Williams, set up Bangor’s first music class which taught people to sing using sol-fa notation. His hymns were popular with congregations of various denominations, and some are still performed in services and concerts.

Perhaps his best-known hymn today is Sanctus. To hear an excerpt from Sanctus, courtesy of Sain Records, press play: Or, download mp3 (551KB)

“Isalaw” is Welsh for bass, or a melodic line that underlies the main tune. Isalaw died in September 1901 and was buried at Glanadda Cemetery, Bangor. Maes Isalaw, a street near his former home, was named in his honour.

The commemorative plaque above the doorway to the house was placed there in 1943. The late-Georgian building is known as the King’s Head and fronts onto two streets.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL57 1DG

With thanks to Matt Tapping and Sarah Andrews of Bangor Civic Society, also Rhidian Griffiths and Sain Records.

Website of Sain Records

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