Rowland Hugh Pritchard (also spelt Prichard) was born in Graienyn (near Bala), North Wales, on January 14, 1811.
From his earliest days music was the main interest of his life. And even before he was twenty years of age he had composed many melodies, including the one found in most hymnals to this day. Even during his last illness … in 1887… he was still jotting down tunes that came to him.
In 1844, Pritchard published Cyfailly Cantorion (The Singer’s Friend), a song book for children.
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During his lifetime he was a choir conductor in the local church, and he published a book of his own original tunes. Rowland Pritchard lives on in his grand tune, Hyfrydol, to which we usually sing the words ‘Come, Thou long expected Jesus’ or ‘I will Sing the Wondrous Story’ or ‘Jesus, what a Friend for Sinners’. Hyfrydol was used for a Welsh hymn written by William Williams, the sweet singer of Wales (see posting for January 11, 2008)
Pritchard’s hymns were published in a number of collections and, in 1914, they were published in The Daily Mail when Welsh politician Lloyd George was at the height of his popularity and, consequently, there was a demand for singing Welsh tunes in meetings he was addressing.
Seven years before his death Pritchard began working (he was 70 years of age at the time!) as a loom-tender’s assistant at the Welsh Flannel Manufacturing Company. And when death came, the head of the firm paid his funeral expenses.
He died January 25, 1887, in Holywell, North Wales.
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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com