December 25, 2013

O Great Saint David

St. David's Cathedral - Pembrokeshire, Wales

O Great Saint David is written by Archbishop Francis Mostyn (1860-1939) of Cardiff, Wales. He composed this tribute to St. David (c.500-c.589), the Patron Saint of Wales to be sung at the dedication of a church named in honour of St. David's mother: St Non's Chapel, which took place on St. David's Day, March 1, 1934. There is no record of the tune to which this hymn was originally sung, however it has been suggested that owing to the unusual metre of the lyrics which restricts the possibilities; one workable musical setting is the tune: Londonderry Air (Danny Boy), as featured in the following video.

Tune: Londonderry Air

O GREAT SAINT DAVID by Francis Mostyn, 1934 (Public Domain)

1. O Great Saint David, still we hear thee call us,
unto a life that knows no fear of death;
Yea, down the ages, will thy words enthral us,
strong happy words:’Be joyful, keep the faith.’

REFRAIN: On Cambria’s sons stretch out thy hands in blessing;
                   for our dear land thy help we now implore.
                   Lead us to God, with humble hearts confessing
                   Jesus, Lord and King for evermore.

2. Christ was the centre rock of all thy teaching,
God’s holy will – the splendour of its theme.
His grace informed, his love inflamed thy preaching;
Christ’s sway on earth, the substance of thy dream. 

3. In early childhood, choosing Jesus only,
thy fervour showed his yoke was light and sweet!
And thus for thee, life’s journey was not lonely,
the path made plain by prints of wounded feet.

4. O glorious saint, we wander in the dark;
with thee we seek our trusted guide in Rome.
Help him to steer on earth Saint Peter’s barque,
that we may safely reach our heavenly home.

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