Griffiths, Ann (1776–1805)

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Griffiths, Ann (1776–1805)

Welsh hymn-writer and mystic. Born Ann Thomas in 1776; died in 1805; daughter of John Thomas (a country poet); married Thomas Griffiths, in 1804; children: one died in infancy.

Ann Griffiths spent her short life in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, Montgomery, Wales. At age 17, she lost her mother, and in 1804 married Thomas Griffiths, but lost her baby daughter the following year and died shortly thereafter. Her father John Thomas was a bardd gwlad (country poet) who mastered the traditional metres of Welsh poetry and recorded local occasions in verse. He was an ardent adherent of the Anglican Church, but he and four of his children were converted to Methodism during the religious revival that took place in that part of Wales. Ann, too, converted to the Methodist Fellowship in 1796, and her home became a center for Methodist preaching.

Her few extant letters are considered to be sublime examples of religious prose. Most of her hymns were never written down but have survived because they were recorded from the memory of Ruth Evans , her maidservant, and published in Casgliad o Hymnau (A Collection of Hymns) the year after her death (1806). These expressed "the peculiar depth and intensity of her spiritual experience and a firm grasp of the essential truths of her faith," influenced by folk songs and carols. Despite her small body of work, it has been the subject of much study in Welsh and English, and English translations have been made of her hymns. She is described as "a central figure in the European tradition of Christian poetry."


Evans, Gwynfor. Welsh Nation Builders. Llandyssul: Gomer, 1988.

Stephens, Meic, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales. Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York, 1986.

Elizabeth Rokkan , translator, formerly Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Bergen, Norway

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