By Carl Llewellyn

Wednesday 10th June 2015 was a day when family, friends, Labour colleagues and representatives of the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council said goodbye to Graham Davies. The funeral service was held in High Street English Baptist Chapel.

Although Graham and Mari were faithful members of Market Square Untied Reformed Chapel, due to its size the family probably thought High Street English would cater for a larger gathering. Graham’s Mayoral Civic Sunday Service was held at High Street English Baptist Chapel.

The chapel was nearly full with so many of the congregation having an association with Graham and wanted to pay their sincere respects. Darya Brill-Williams, the organist of High Street played a selection of well known hymn tunes as the family and mourners arrived.

Reverend Nannette Lewis Head, officiating, began her address by mentioning the “Resurrection” as her biblical theme. She spoke of Graham’s Christian faith and his obliging nature, and her opening prayer gave thanks to God for Graham’s life.

The first hymn tune chosen by the family was Gwahoddiad (Invitation), words and music originally written by Lewis Hartsough for a revivalist meeting held at Epworth, Iowa in 1872 and called ‘Welcome Voice’. The English words were translated into Welsh by John Roberts (who sometimes wrote under his bardic name ‘Ieuan Gwyllt’. Gwahoddiad was sung to the Welsh words “Mi glywaf dyner lais”, translated “I hear thy tender voice calling me.” The organist gave a ‘Hwyl’ to the service by repeating the chorus with the “Amen” ending.

After a reading from the Bible, the Reverend Nannette Lewis Head called upon Graham and Mari’s grandson Twm Tegid, who gave his own personal tribute to his grandfather by singing that well known and loved Welsh hymn “Mae D’Eisiau Di”. The original words were written in English by an American lady, Annie Sherwood Hawks. After writ­ing the lyr­ics, Hawks gave them to her pas­tor, Ro­bert Low­ry, who add­ed the tune and re­frain. The hymn was first pub­lished at the Na­tion­al Bap­tist Sun­day School Con­ven­tion in Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio, in No­vem­ber 1872. Some years lat­er, af­ter the death of her hus­band, Hawks wrote:

“I did not un­der­stand at first why this hymn had touched the great throb­bing heart of humanity”

The hymn became so well-liked Ieuan Gwyllt ( John Roberts) translated the Hymn into Welsh, giving the hymn a eminence that will live forever.

Graham’s cousin Roger Davies gave the eulogy, delivering a worthy tribute with love and sincerity. When Roger was a boy he looked up to Graham as a figure to aspire to and talked about Graham’s upbringing and the values he had inherited from a respectful back ground.

The Reverend Nannette Lewis Head said a prayer, followed by a secret about Graham. When he invited Mari out for a date, instead of taking her to the cinema, restaurant or even a concert, he took her to a Labour party meeting. Nannette reiterated about Graham’s life, saying how important his family was to him, and his love for the community.

At the funeral service were representatives from all the societies and originations he was associated with:

- Lord Rowlands of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

- His Worship the Mayor of the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil, David Isaacs and the Mayoress Deborah Isaacs were in attendance wearing the robes of office. Also the councillors who were able to attend wore their robes of office. There were ten former Mayors of the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil present: Linda Matthews, Tom Lewis, Ian Clarke, Allan Jones, Clive Jones, Glenn Price, Clive Tovey, Paul Brown, Lisa Mytton and Brian Mansbridge.

- Merthyr Tydfil Family History Society

- The Merthyr Tydfil Historical Society

- Friends of Cyfarthfa

- Merthyr Tydfil Heritage Regeneration Trust

The concluding hymn was “Love Divine”, the famous hymn with words written by Charles Wesley, sung to the Hymn tune “Blaenwern”. Composed by Welsh schoolteacher William Penfro Rowlands during the Welsh revival of 1904–1905 the tune is named after Blaenwern Farm near Tufton, Pembrokeshire.

The Reverend Nannette Lewis Head gave the Blessing before the organist played “Myfanwy” as the family and mourners left the chapel. Graham’s widow Mari, his daughter Jane, his sons Marc and Nigel, his grandchildren Loren, Oliver and Twm Tegid. Graham’s great granddaughter Ela was too young to attend.

The funeral service at High Street was chosen as a public service and so the family cortège left the chapel for a private family cremation service at Llywydcoed.

On the Order of Service the family extended an invitation to join them for refreshments at Cyfarthfa Castle where Graham could be remembered in a social atmosphere.

The Dowlais Male Choir, led by Musical Director and family friend Darya Brill-Williams, paid their respects to Mari and the family as they arrived at Cyfarthfa Castle from Llwydcoed Crematorium. The choir stood on the Museum steps, giving an emotional rendition of Myfanwy.

Dowlais Male Choir, Cyfarthfa Castle

Dowlais Male Choir, Cyfarthfa Castle

I will close with two biblical quotes “Hedd, Perffaith Hedd” and “Duw Caried Yw”, mentioned in Graham’s acknowledgement of death and the Order of Service, meaning “Peace, Perfect Peace” and “God is Love”. Graham understood and truly believed this and is now resting from labours and at peace, that heavenly peace.

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