Last night I went to Treorchy in the Rhondda Valley to hear the Treorchy Male Choir. What an excellent evening in the rather splendid Park and Dare Theatre. The venue began life in 1892 as a working men’s institute and library. Construction was funded from contributions from the wages of local miners. Each miner employed at the local Park and Dare Collieries contributed a penny out of every pound he was paid. The theatre was added in 1913.
The town of Treorchy is one of a number of communities that grew in response to industrialisation of the South Wales Valleys in the mid-1800s after the discovery of coal. Many people flocked to the area to find work in the mines. Nowadays the mines have all closed and the area has suffered economically, forcing people to travel further afield to find work.
Christianity was very evident during the growth of the collieries. Noddfa, the largest Baptist Chapel in Treorchy could apparently seat 1,000 people. Membership is reported to have peaked at 715 in 1905 – the time of the Welsh Revival. How sad that membership declined as secularisation crept in. Noddfa Chapel was demolished in 1986.
While Christianity, like the economy of the Valleys, may have declined, its heritage lives on through the choirs who still sing hymns in both English and Welsh. Last night the Treorchy Male Choir sang Tydi a Roddaist. A translation follows (courtesy of https://mdiber05.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/tydi-a-roddaist/):
Neither the economic decline of the Welsh Valleys, nor the closure and demolition of churches once filled with worshippers can ever detract from the signature of God in creation, visible all around those Valleys in the most beautiful scenery and shown in the photographs included in this post. But Tydi a Roddaist also reminds us of the Son of God and the journey to Calvary, where innocent blood was shed as the Creator died in the place of those He had created. How dare we cease to worship?
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:8 NKJV)