William Morgan and the Welsh Bible

Rosemary Burton remembers a special 400th anniversary in Welsh history

A special stamp, issued on St David's Day, commemorated the publication 400 years ago of the first complete Bible in Welsh. The anniversary alone was worthy of celebration, but William Morgan's translation of the scriptures into Welsh had a significance which reached far beyond ecclesiastical circles. Today, William Morgan (who pronounced himself unhappy with the original edition of 1,000 Bibles because they were expensive, at 2 pounds each, and inconveniently large) is revered for his major contribution to the preservation of his own language: 'If ever one single book saved a language, that book is the Bible in Welsh', wrote Wynford Vaughan-Thomas in his Wales – A History (Michael Joseph) and it is a view echoed again and again wherever Welsh speakers are found.

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