Thursday, December 11, 2008


The earliest reference to choristers at St. Davids Cathedral was in 1132 during the reign of Richard II when there were two choirboys who were given instruction in grammar and singing.

In 1535, the number of choristers had risen to eight.

Thomas Tomkins, the famous church music composer, was born in St. Davids in 1572 and he became a chorister in the cathedral while his father was the organist and master of the choristers.

St. Davids Cathedral Choir, like most British cathedral choirs, was made up of boys singing the treble line and men singing the lower voice parts until, in the late 1960s, an epidemic of influenza in the run up to a live broadcast caused the cathedral organist, Peter Boorman, to take the prudent step of introducing girls to strengthen the treble line.

From that time until 1991 the cathedral choir included girls' and boys' voices mixed in a single line with the result that girls rather took over.

The main cathedral choir is unique in the United Kingdom in that its top line currently consists of girls aged 8-18.

The lay clerks of the choir work locally in a variety of occupations.

The choir sings at four services each week and has recorded several CDs, one of which sold more than one million copies in the US, and broadcast many times on BBC radio and television.

In addition to the Cathedral Choir, there is a separate Boys' Choir. The boys sing Evensong on Tuesdays and Fridays (fortnightly with the lay clerks).

The Junior Choir is open to boys and girls in Years 3-6 and currently has 25 singers from the primary schools of St. Davids, Croesgoch and Solva. The choir rehearses at 3:45 p.m. on Fridays and sings two services in the cathedral each term.

All three choirs benefit from a first-rate musical education.

For the Cathedral Choir and Boys' Choir there are other perks: they receive payment and the girls have a number of singing lessons each year with a professional singer, subsidized by the Dean and Chapter.

In 1991, the Cathedral Singers, an adult choir of mixed voices, was established. Under the expert direction of Simon Pearce (Assistant Organist) since 1998, the choir sings evensong every fortnight and occasionally deputizes for the cathedral choir during half term holidays.

Picture from the St. Davids Cathedral Web site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SAINT DAVID (C. 500–589)

(Welsh: Dewydd; Latin: Davidus; English: David)

According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of South Wales and St. Non.

In contrast with the other national patron saints of the British Isles, Saints George, Andrew and Patrick, David is a native of the country of which he is patron saint, and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life.

However, his birth date is still uncertain; suggestions range from 462 to 512.

He was ordained a priest and later studied under St. Paulinus.

Later, he was involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries.

St. David's Cathedral now stands on the site of the monastery he founded.

The monastery he founded at Menevia in Southwestern Wales was noted for extreme asceticism.

St. David journeyed throughout the West, founding or restoring twelve monasteries (among which are the great names of Glastonbury, Bath, and Leominster).

David and his monks drank neither wine nor beer - only water - while putting in a full day of heavy manual labor and intense study.

Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire.

His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church.

He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism. David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II.

He is revered as the patron of Wales.

His staunch adherence to monastic piety bespeaks a fine example for modern Christians seeking order and form in their prayer life.

His symbol, also the symbol of Wales, is the leek.

His last words to his followers, in a sermon on the previous Sunday, were:

"Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us."

"Do the little things in life" ('Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd') today is a very well-known phrase in Welsh.

David was buried at St. David's Cathedral where his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages.

His feast day is March 1.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Some of the magnificent stained glass cathedral windows.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Some of St. Davids Cathedral's unique choir seats.


While Whitesands beach is quite big, Caerfai Bay is small.

But there is something magic in these prune rocks.

They are the same ones used to build our St. Davids Cathedral.

See the pictures, and notice the color of the rocks.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Martin Waters took this fantastic picture a month ago.

This is the traditional St. Davids Lifeboat Station in St. Junstinians.

The second picture, by Lyndon Lomax, opens the Lifeboat Web site and shows the rescue boat in full action after the launch.

For visits, please call Coxswain David John at 01437 720215.

Station hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., daily


Welsh Bloke has a collection of great pictures here about the best beach in St. Davids.


Czech mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozõená leads a top lineup of soloists for three of Bach's most admired Cantatas (BWV 113, 179 & 199), with Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in the St. Davids Cathedral, May 2007.


A recent picture from The Guardian of St. Davids' Whitesands, one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales.


The Dean of St. Davids Cathedral, the Very Reverend John Wyn Evans, was elected as the 128th bishop of the diocese by the Electoral College of the Church in Wales, at a lock-in meeting at the cathedral on Sept. 1.

Rev. Evans, 61, has served as dean for the past 14 years, during which time he was the driving force behind the £10m cathedral restoration project, which included the acclaimed rebuilding and expansion of the historic cloisters area.

Evans grew up in Aberystwyth, the son of the vicar of Aberystwyth, Efion Evans. He was educated at Ardwyn Grammar School, Aberystwyth, then studied archaeology at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He trained for the priesthood at St. Michael's College, Llandaff 1968-71 and has served all his ministry in the Diocese of St. Davids.

Ordained as a priest in 1972, Wyn served as a minor canon at St. Davids Cathedral from 1972-75.

A keen historian, the dean is an honorary fellow of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and a leading expert on the lives of the early Welsh saints and St. Davids Cathedral. He has recently edited a book, titled 'St David of Wales - Cult, Church and Nation'.

He is married to Diane, a professional potter in St. Davids.

Watch video footage of the election here.

(Via BBC Wales)

Pictured: the former Dean of St. Davids Cathedral, the Very Rev. John Wyn Evans, with the Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan.


A few days ago, St. Davids had the Naming Dedication Ceremony for its new inshore lifeboat.

The lifeboat, which cost £31,000, was donated to St Davids Lifeboat Station by Mr. Richard Gurr from Solihull in the West Midlands in memory of his late parents, Myrtle and Trevor Gurr.

The ceremony was held in the St Davids Cathedral due to the bad weather.

The service started with Mr. Richard Gurr saying how proud he was that a lifeboat was to be named after his parents.

Captain James Wilcox, St. Davids lifeboat operations manager, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of St Davids Station and thanked the donor for his generosity.

St Davids Lifeboat Coxswain David John gave a vote of thanks to the donor and invited Mr. Gurr to name the lifeboat "Myrtle and Trevor Gurr."

Mr. Gurr said:

"Despite the fact I couldn't live further from the sea now, our family home was in Southend-on-Sea and my father especially enjoyed building small boats and being on the water. My parents would be delighted to know their memory lives on in such a worthwhile voluntary organisation. They would be incredibly proud that a lifeboat had been named after them, especially in such a wonderful location. Having lived in and around cities for most of my life, I was impressed by the friendliness of the people of St Davids during my recent visit. I received such a warm welcome from the St Davids RNLI crew and recognise the lifeboat is an integral part of the community life and will be delighted to be associated with her."

(Information and picture from the St. Davids RNLI)


St David, St Patrick, King Arthur ... In Pembrokeshire Christopher Somerville finds himself walking on legendary land.

The lead of his great Daily Telegraph piece:

A blowy Sunday morning in westernmost Pembrokeshire after a week of grey, horizontal weather – and boy, were we keen to see the sun. When the clouds began to shred away off the moor tops and the hint of a tint of blue shone through, we were out of our holiday cottage and down in St David's before you could blink... St David's is one of those neat little towns you don't want to leave in a hurry.

(Picture by Christopher Somerville)


We came to St. Davids on our honeymoon in 1996.

We loved the people and the landscape of this unique Welsh city.

And we bought a very cozy house here: Ty Withey.

Since then, we have been occasional residents of St. Davids.

Deborah's dad was a Welsh emigrant, and Wales was in the blood of our family.

So, now that we are returning to St. Davids, we want to welcome you to our city and invite you not just to read this blog, but to come and visit us.

Welcome home!

Croeso gartref