Since the days of St David, Christianity has sustained the Welsh nation. It’s likely that the language would have long died had we not had the Bible in Welsh in 1588. The circulating schools of Griffith Jones, which taught people to read Welsh, was another key factor in its continuity. Then came the great hymn writers like William Williams and Ann Griffiths, not to mention the preachers who proclaimed the gospel. And when the state was trying to beat Welsh out of our children with the dreaded ‘Welsh Not’, the Sunday Schools were teaching them to read and write in ‘the language of heaven’.
“Historically, the fact that Welsh was the medium of most people’s relationship with Christ is the primary reason for the survival of our language,” said Dr Geraint Tudur, General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents. “But in recent decades, the spiritual condition of the nation has declined. In chapels, the Prayer Meeting is the first activity to go. Then the Sunday School. Then the minister. And in time the cause itself closes. That’s the usual pattern.”
“The loss of the local chapel is a huge blow to the language and the community. People hear Welsh from the pulpit every Sunday and are familiar with reading the Bible and singing Welsh hymns. “
A nation without God is a nation without hope
“On St David’s Day, when we celebrate the existence and continuity of our nation, it is fitting that Christians pray fervently for Wales and its people,” said Dr Tudur. “There is little future for a nation that has lost the spiritual element. If a nation without a language is a nation without a heart, a nation without God in a nation without hope.
“As St David’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, this is a great opportunity for us to pray for spiritual renewal in the life of our nation. I hope that our people will rediscover the value and power of prayer, that the Christian message is a powerful influence on us, and leads to social justice in our country.”
(In its Annual Meetings at Llandudno in 2007, the Union decided “that March 1 should be a day of prayer and supplication for Wales and its people.” Photo of St David: Alun Lenny)