Could you learn to sing Calon Lân in 30 minutes?

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1. Calon Lân - the rugby anthem

Although written way back in the 19th century, Calon Lân is still a firm favourite with Welsh rugby fans, and is sung with gusto before every international match.

While you may be familiar with the melody, just how well do you know the words? Learning some of the unique sounds of Welsh might sound a bit daunting at first, but it's really no harder than learning to sing Frère Jacques when you were younger.

The words 'calon lân' literally mean 'a clean heart' or 'a pure heart'. The song was originally written as a hymn, but since being adopted as a rugby anthem the meaning is now more about being true to yourself - and to your team, of course!

2. What does the first verse mean?

It's important to understand the meaning of the song, as you'll be better placed to remember the Welsh words if you know what you're singing about.

The first verse of Calon Lân starts off by dismissing worldly goods like a life of luxury - bywyd moethus - and shuns the riches of this world with its fine pearls - berlau mân.

It ends by asking for a happy, honest and pure heart - '... am galon hapus (happy), calon onest (honest), calon lân (pure)'. If you can remember the word calon, then you've practically nailed the last two lines already!

The symbol over the letter 'a' in mân and lân is important, as it shows that the 'a' is long. So, mân is pronounced more like 'maahn' than the English word 'man'.

The letter 'u' in Welsh is pronounced like a short 'i' in the words moethus and hapus – they rhyme with the word kiss. When you see the combination of ‘au’ together, it’s pronounced like the English word eye. In the song, the word berlau can be pronounced correctly if you say ‘Beryl eye’ very quickly.

3. Practise the first verse

Wynne Evans' guide to memorising the words of the first verse of Calon Lân.

4. Introducing the chorus

The chorus is the most well-known part of Calon Lân, and rejoices in a pure heart, which is full of goodness - daioni.

Don't let all the vowels in this word put you off, as daioni is a lovely word and very easy to pronounce - just say 'Dai on knee'.

The chorus also states that a pure heart is more beautiful than the fairest of lilies - lili dlos.

Luckily the word lili not only sounds like the English word lily, but it has the same meaning too.

It's followed by the word dlos, which means pretty, fair or beautiful. It might seem odd not to see a vowel between the 'd' and the 'l', but just say what you see - 'dl'. The word dlos rhymes with the English word horse.

The refrain ends with the claim that it is only a pure heart - calon lân - that can sing all day and all night long.

Note that in the words canu, ganu and chanu (which all mean to sing), the 'u' here sounds more like an 'ee'. Canu is pronounced like the English word 'canny'.

5. Practise the chorus

Wynne nails the chorus of Calon Lân.

6. Listen to the whole song

Hopefully, you've got a bit more idea of the melody by now.

But learning the words to Calon Lân isn't just useful at rugby matches - you'll sometimes hear the song being sung as a hymn in churches to the famous Welsh tune known as Blaenwern.

But if you want to be less traditional, you could always sing the words of Calon Lân to the melody of The Rose, which was made famous by Bette Midler and recorded more recently by Westlife. Or you could try singing the words to Adele's version of Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love.

Experimenting is a good way of practising, but nothing beats singing Calon Lân in the rugby terraces!

7. How did you score?

Did following Wynne's advice help you to learn the words to Calon Lân? If so, how did you do?

That was easy!

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That was easy!

Well done! If you've successfully managed to master the words to Calon Lân, then why not have a stab at learning some other traditional Welsh songs?

I learnt it in 30 minutes

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I learnt it in 30 minutes

Congratulations! You've followed Wynne's advice to a tee. Now that you feel confident singing the words to Calon Lân, it might inspire you to learn more Welsh.

It took ages to learn

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It took ages to learn

You've listened to Wynne's tips, and by taking your time you've successfully committed the words to memory. Keep practising so that you don't forget the words.

I couldn't tackle it at all

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I couldn't tackle it at all

Learning another language can be quite tricky. But if you follow Wynne's tips, you might find that it all clicks into place the next time you watch the rugby.