Hymn society’s founding place, Capel Salim, Bala


Link to Welsh translation

The former Capel Salim, now the Capel Clay pottery studio, is the founding place of Cymdeithas Emynau Cymru (the Welsh Hymn Society).

The chapel was rebuilt in the late 19th century by the Baptist congregation who had worshipped there since 1859. Previously it had been occupied by the Wesleyan Methodist denomination.

Wales has a rich heritage of hymn writing and singing. The rapid growth of Nonconformity from the 18th century onwards, followed by disestablishment of the Church in Wales in 1920,  lent a strong Welsh identity to worship for most people in Wales. Many Nonconformist poets and musicians were inspired to write words and tunes which bolstered the sense of being separate from the Church of England.

Cymdeithas Emynau Cymru was formed here on 10 August 1967 with the aim of studying and promoting this heritage, including hymns translated into Welsh. The meeting coincided with the visit of the National Eisteddfod to Bala. The new society’s president was ED Jones, of the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. The secretary was Prof D Eirwyn Morgan, of Bangor.

The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland had existed since 1936. One of its vice-presidents was the Welsh hymnist and poet Elfed (Rev Howell Elvet Lewis). In 1948 he called for a Welsh equivalent, which would standardise the hymn translations used by different denominations. He died in 1953, 14 years before Cymdeithas Emynau Cymru was formed.

The society’s annual one-day school in Aberystwyth has a different theme each year. Its online lectures during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 were popular.

Its annual lecture at the National Eisteddfod has been delivered by leading figures from all denominations, including Dr Rowan Williams (now Baron Williams of Oystermouth) in 2001. He was the Archbishop of Wales at the time, and was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012.

Postcode: LL23 7AD    View Location Map

Website of Capel Clay

Website of Cymdeithas Emynau Cymru

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