Wales is rightly proud of its singing heritage. Song, both religious and secular, is hugely important to the Welsh culture – not for nothing is it often known as the Land of Song. In particular, choral music is an essential part of the country’s musical repertoire, with many Welsh choirs famed around the world.

Here are some of the best-known and best-loved traditional Welsh songs.

Best Welsh songs

‘We’ll Keep a Welcome (in the Hillsides)’

The music for this popular song was composed in 1940 by Welsh songwriter and entertainer Mai Jones, while the words came from lyricists Lyn Joshua and Jimmy Harper. Originally introduced for the wartime BBC radio variety show Welsh Rarebit, the song has retained strong associations with Wales.

Originally broadcast on the BBC Forces Programme, Welsh Rarebit was aimed at Welsh people serving in the armed forces during World War II. We’ll Keep a Welcome was written as the closing music for each episode.

Welsh Rarebit was later transferred to the BBC Light Programme, where it became the most popular show in 1949. We’ll Keep a Welcome rapidly became a popular postwar song: indeed, by the 1950s, the song was sometimes referred to as “Wales’ second national anthem”.

The song got its first and second recordings during 1949. Later, in 1956, the great Welsh singer, present and comedian Harry Secombe also recorded a version.

‘Sosban Fach’ (‘Little Saucepan’)

A traditional Welsh folk song, Sosban Fach (or ‘Little Saucepan’) is a well-known and much-loved Welsh language song. A domestic vignette involving an overstretched housewife, a crying baby and a little pan boiling over the fire, the song has close associations with the rugby union club Llanelli RFC and, more recently, the Scarlets regional rugby side.

Those links came about through Llanelli’s tin plating industry: generations of saucepans and other kitchen utensils were tin-plated in the town and then sold on to the British public. The town’s industry, and its most famous song, are also remembered in the Scarlets’ official magazine, Sosban.

Renowned Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel recorded the song on his 2000 album We’ll Keep a Welcome.