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The Bells of Rhymney

[words Idris Davies, music Pete Seeger]

Pete Seeger sang Idris Davies’ poem The Bells of Rhymney, set to his own music, at a Ballads and Blues concert at St. Pancras Town Hall Theatre on 4 October 1959 that was released by Folklore Records in 1963 on the album Pete Seeger in Concert.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sang The Bells of Rhymney in 1963 on their eponymous Transatlantic album, This is the Ian Campbell Folk Group.

Canterbury Fair sang The Bells of Rhymney on their eponymous 1977 album Canterbury Fair. They noted:

The author of this beautiful poem was Idris Davies, who died in the early 30’s. Its theme is that of the hardship suffered by the Welsh miners in the depression of that period, and it is also not unlike the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. Pete Seeger, who came across this in a book of poems and prose by Dylan Thomas entitled Quite Early One Morning, fitted a tune, and a marvellous job he did too. In our arrangement we have tried to capture the style of a Welsh choir, a type of singing unique to that small country of choir singers.

The Oysterband sang The Bells of Rhymney on their 1992 Cooking Vinyl album Deserters. This track was also included in 1999 on The Cooking Vinyl Sampler for Mid and Budget Titles at a Special Price.

Bob Davenport and The Rakes sang The Bells of Rhymney in 1997 on their Fellside album The Red Haired Lad.

Roger McGuinn sang The Bells of Rhymney on the Appleseed anthology of the songs of Pete Seeger, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.


Canterbury Fair sing The Bells of Rhymney

Oh, what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.
Is there hope for the future?
Cry the brown bells of Merthyr.
Who made the mine owner?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.
And who robbed the miner?
Cry the grim bells of Blaina.

They will plunder willy-nilly,
Say the bells of Caerphilly.
They have fangs, they have teeth,
Shout the loud bells of Neath.
Even God is uneasy,
Say the moist bells of Swansea.
Oh, what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Throw the vandals in court,
Cry the bells of Newport.
All would be well if, if, if,
Say the green bells of Cardiff.
Why so worried, sisters, why?
Sing the silver bells of Wye.
Oh, what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney?