Music And Bird Singing Heard Before Death

: 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 moth
r 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.