Bible translations into Welsh

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This tattered Welsh bible of 1620 in Llanwnda church is said to have been rescued from the hands of French invaders in 1797

Bible translations into Welsh have existed since at least the 15th century, but the most widely used translation of the Bible into Welsh for several centuries was the 1588 translation by William Morgan, as revised in 1620. The Beibl Cymraeg Newydd was published in 1988 and revised in 2004. is a new translation in colloquial Welsh which was recently completed.

History of versions[edit]

15th century version[edit]

Several 19th century sources mention that a translation from the Latin Vulgate was in existence in 1470; for example Bishop Richard Davies claimed to have seen, as a boy, such a translation in a manuscript in the house (named Celydd Ifan) of an uncle.[1][2] However, Professor Glanmor Williams dismisses the theory that the whole Bible had been translated into Welsh before William Morgan’s Bible appeared in 1588.[3]

William Salesbury, 1567[edit]

Following the English Reformation, translations were made from the Greek versions. The New Testament translation of William Salesbury was printed in 1567 by Humphrey Toy.

Willam Morgan, 1588[edit]

Memorial to the Welsh Bible translators in St John's College, Cambridge being William Morgan and Edmund Prys.

It was closely followed by William Morgan's translation of the whole Bible in 1588. Morgan soon began work on a revision (or a new translation) of his 1588 Bible, which contained a number of printing errors. After Morgan's death, Bishop Richard Parry and Dr John Davies continued the work with the aim of polishing the literary language, replacing forms considered too colloquial, and to bring the text into greater conformity with the Authorised Version of the English Bible of 1611. The revised version of the Bible was published in 1620. This edition is still known as William Morgan's translation, and it is this rather than the previous edition which became the standard Welsh Bible until the 20th century and continues to be used to this day. This occupies a similar place in the Welsh language to that of the venerated King James Version in English.

The early Bible editions were large volumes intended for use in churches; in 1630 a smaller edition was published intended for use in the home, thus bringing scripture in Welsh into the hands of the laity.

An original copy of the Welsh Bible is displayed in St Asaph Cathedral, in St Asaph, North Wales. It was used at the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969.

The translation of the Bible into Welsh was important to the survival of the Welsh language. It had the effect, along with the Welsh translation of the Book of Common Prayer, of conferring status on Welsh as a liturgical language and vehicle for worship. This in turn contributed to its continued use as a means of everyday communication down to the present day, despite the pressure of English.

Today the William Morgan Bible is still printed by the Trinitarian Bible Society.

New Welsh Bible, 1988[edit]

A new translation, y Beibl Cymraeg Newydd (BCN), was published in 1988 and has largely replaced the William Morgan translation. A revision of Y Beibl Cymraeg Newydd Diwygiedig (BCND) (the Revised New Welsh Bible) was released in March 2004. Professor John Tudno Williams and Professor S.I. Enoch were Members of the New Testament Panel.[4][5] 2011[edit]

Both the William Morgan and BCN versions are in very literary Welsh and a translation in a more colloquial register is being made by Arfon Jones as part of the project. The Gospel of Mark has been printed and is available from the Bible Society. The New Testament is available on-line on and

Language comparison[edit]

A Comparison of John 3:16 in Welsh Translations
Translation Ioan 3:16
Beibl William Morgan, 1588 Canys felly y cârodd Duw y bŷd, fel y rhoddodd efe ei uni-genedic fab, fel na choller nêb a'r y fydd yn crêdu ynddo ef, eithꝛ caffael o honaw ef fywyd tragywyddol.
Beibl William Morgan, 1620 Canys felly y carodd Duw y byd fel y rhoddodd efe ei unig-anedig Fab, fel na choller pwy bynnag a gredo ynddo ef, ond caffael ohono fywyd tragwyddol.
Y Beibl Cymraeg Newydd, 1988 Do, carodd Duw y byd gymaint nes iddo roi ei unig Fab, er mwyn i bob un sy'n credu ynddo ef beidio â mynd i ddistryw ond cael bywyd tragwyddol. by Arfon Jones, 2008 Ydy, mae Duw wedi caru’r byd cymaint nes iddo roi ei unig Fab, er mwyn i bwy bynnag sy'n credu ynddo beidio mynd i ddistryw ond cael bywyd tragwyddol.


  • The text of y Beibl Cymraeg Newydd is available as a module for the e-Sword program.
  • Digitisation of the 1620 William Morgan translation was completed by the British & Foreign Bible Society
  • [1] William Morgan, BCND and are available on
  • [2] William Morgan, BCND and are available on

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Bible of Every Land: A History of the Sacred Scriptures. 1861. p. 154. A Welsh version of the Bible was preserved in MS. at Celydd Ifan, near Bridgend in Glamorgan: it appears to have been executed from the Latin Vulgate, by an ancestor of the family residing in that place, about the year 1470. 
  2. ^ Hughes, William (1891). Life and Times of Bishop William Morgan, the Translator of the Welsh Bible. p. 185. Near Bridgend in Glamorgan: it appears to have been executed from the Latin Vulgate by an ancestor of the family residing in that place, about the year 1470. A considerable portion of the MS. was still extant a few years ago 
  3. ^ The Library of Wales Website Response to a Question
  4. ^ The Revised New Welsh Bible on the Bible Society website
  5. ^ Samuel Ifor Enoch on the Welsh Biography Online website
  • Richardson, Ruth Elizabeth, 2007, Mistress Blanche Queen Elizabeth I's Confidante.
  • Richardson, Ruth Elizabeth, Blanche Parry & Queen Elizabeth I 2012 calendar has frontispiece of Welsh Bible 1588, see website:
  • Iwan Rhys Jones, "C. H. Dodd and the Welsh Bible: A Fading Influence," The Expository Times, 119,8 (2008), 380-384.

External links[edit]

The Bible in Welsh/Beibl Cymraeg:

Other articles: