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Music And Bird Singing Heard Before Death


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The writer, both in Denbighshire and Carnarvonshire, was told that the
dying have stated that they heard sweet voices singing in the air, and
they called the attention of the watchers to the angelic sounds, and
requested perfect stillness, so as not to lose a single note of the
heavenly music.

A young lad, whom the writer knew--an intelligent and promising
boy--whilst lying on his death-bed, told his mother that he heard a bird
warbling beautifully outside the house, and in rapture he listened to the
bird's notes.

His mother told me of this, and she stated further, that she had herself
on three different occasions previously to her eldest daughter's death,
in the middle of the night, distinctly heard singing of the most lovely
kind, coming, as she thought, from the other side of the river. She went
to the window and opened it, but the singing immediately ceased, and she
failed to see anyone on the spot where she had imagined the singing came
from. My informant also told me that she was not the only person who
heard lovely singing before the death of a friend. She gave me the name
of a nurse, who before the death of a person, whose name was also given
me, heard three times the most beautiful singing just outside the sick
house. She looked out into the night, but failed to see anyone. Singing
of this kind is expected before the death of every good person, and it is
a happy omen that the dying is going to heaven.

In the Life of Tegid, which is given in his Gwaith Barddonawl, p. 20,
it is stated:--

Yn ei absenoldeb o'r Eglwys, pan ar wely angeu, ar fore dydd yr
Arglwydd, tra yr oedd offeiriad cymmydogaethol yn darllen yn ei le yn
Llan Nanhyfer, boddwyd llais y darllenydd gan fwyalchen a darawai drwy yr
Eglwys accen uchel a pherseiniol yn ddisymwth iawn. . . . Ar ol dyfod
o'r Eglwys cafwyd allan mai ar yr amser hwnw yn gywir yr ehedodd enaid
mawr Tegid o'i gorph i fyd yr ysprydoedd.

Which translated is as follows:--

In his absence from Church, when lying on his deathbed, in the morning of
the Lord's Day, whilst a neighbouring clergyman was taking the service
for him in Nanhyfer Church, the voice of the reader was suddenly drowned
by the beautiful song of a thrush, that filled the whole Church. . . .
It was ascertained on leaving the church that at that very moment the
soul of Tegid left his body for the world of spirits.

In the Myths of the Middle Ages, p. 426, an account is given of The
Piper of Hamelin, and there we have a description of this spirit song:--

Sweet angels are calling to me from yon shore,
Come over, come over, and wander no more.

Miners believe that some of their friends have the gift of seeing fatal
accidents before they occur. A miner in the East of Denbighshire told me
of instances of this belief and he gave circumstantial proof of the truth
of his assertion. Akin to this faith is the belief that people have seen
coffins or spectral beings enter houses, both of which augur a coming

In The Lives of the Cambro-British Saints, p. 444, it is stated that
previously to the death of St. David the whole city was filled with the
music of angels.

The preceding death omens do not, perhaps, exhaust the number, but they
are quite enough to show how prevalent they were, and how prone the
people were to believe in such portents. Some of them can be accounted
for on natural grounds, but the majority are the creation of the
imagination, strengthened possibly in certain instances by remarkable
coincidences which were remembered, whilst if no death occurred after any
of the omens, the failure was forgotten.

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