Around 1999, I heard a beautiful tune in a rerun of the British comedy series “One Foot in the Grave,” sung with comic lyrics:
The thought I had was “I know this melody!” But I couldn’t place it. It made my hair stand on end with weird familiarity.
I later (2002-ish) found an episode of “The Vicar of Dibley” that had the English version, called “Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer/Jehovah.” That was the first I knew for sure it was a hymn.
I later learned that the melody (as with many hymns sung in English churches) has its own name, Cwm Rhondda, and that it is a Welsh tune first performed in 1907.
I had re-visited the idea that I had heard it in my previous life but initially, I had written that off because I was in England and the song is Welsh, thus by 1914 it wouldn’t have been in the standard Anglican hymnal.
But now I know that Hereford- the town where I spent most of the time between 1907 and 1914, is in what once was Wales and there are a lot of Welsh families there still. The same is true of Shrewsbury.
Here it is in its original Welsh setting in an older recording (probably 1920s-30s):
There is a very good chance I heard this gorgeous melody back when it was still new.