Saint David's Day and the Sound of Wales

(Photo: GiniMiniGi)

For people in Wales it marks the beginning of spring. January and February's watery gloom has been endured and 1 March arrives in a splash of daffodil yellow and leek green. This is Saint David's Day, or Dydd Gwyl Dewi in Welsh. David is the nation's patron saint, celebrated in cultural festivals (known as eisteddfodau) across the country.

This year this great day will be celebrated in musical style in the capital city. A new Welsh language missional community, Calon Lân, is joining forces with the Sound of Wales acapella group to celebrate all things Welsh.

In a fully bilingual evening at Cardiff's Gate Arts Centre, guests will enjoy a feast of familiar hymns and songs as well as new material. A gallery of other artists will also be at hand to make the event swing, including local singer song writer, Gruff Russell-Jones.

Cath Woolridge from Sound of Wales said: "It's almost impossible to describe the relationship that the people of Wales have with music. We love the sound of music, particularly when there are voices involved.

"People coming to this event will hear great singing and also take part I a few impromptu choral numbers. But there'll also be some Dylan Thomas poetry and other music.

"And to top it all, guests will be given some Welsh delicacies to eat during the interval. If you've never had Welsh cakes or Bara Brith then this evening is an absolute must for you."

Unlike most other patron saints we know quite a bit about David. He died at a ripe old age in about 601 AD, having been born around a hundred years earlier. He rose to prominence as a teacher and missionary, establishing monasteries in west Wales, south west England and Brittany. Throughout his life he argued vigorously against Pelagianism, a teaching that down played original sin and argued that humanity could reach its own righteous state before God.

This may sound like a peripheral argument played out on the Celtic fringes of the church, but this was a furious row that nearly caused civil war in Christendom. And David was in the thick of it all, appearing in sundry synods championing the orthodox point of view.

Although combative in nature, David must have been a reclusive soul. Any visitor to St David's Cathedral in the far west of Wales is first struck by its rugged remoteness. Craggy, pointed hills housing more rooks than humans. As far away now as it was then from urban living, David and his brothers lived simply in the prehistoric hills and valleys of Pembrokeshire. But from here they went on missionary adventures, establishing missional communities across south west Britain and western France.

Saints and miracles of course are hand in glove and David was no exception to this canonical principle. His most surprising event took place in the village of Llanddewi Brefi, where David was debating the heresy of Pelagianism. For some reason best known to David and now lost in antiquity, he retired to a nearby common and preached in the open air. Such was his inspired speech that onlookers noted that a white dove rested on his shoulder and the ground on which he was standing rose into a small hill. There were also many healings but it was the dramatic landscape adjustment that grabbed the headlines.

We can't promise the creation of new hills in Cardiff this Friday but it is hoped that the musical offering will raise the roof. The event starts at 7pm and tickets cost £7. For further information please contact The Gate Box Office on (029) 2048 3344.

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