Sosban Fach (Welsh for "Little Saucepan") is a traditional Welsh folk song. It is one of the best-known and most often sung songs in the Welsh language.
The song is based on a verse written by Mynyddog in 1873 as part of his song Rheolau yr Aelwyd ("Rules of the home") — see below. Talog Williams, an accountant from Dowlais, created the song we have today by altering Mynyddog's verse and adding four new verses.
The song catalogues the troubles of a harassed housewife. The song is associated with the rugby union club Llanelli RFC and, more recently, the Scarlets regional rugby side. The association derives from Llanelli's tin plating industry, which used to tin-plate steel saucepans and other kitchen utensils as a cheap supply to the British public. During the final years of Stradey Park, the former ground of Llanelli RFC and the Scarlets, the goalposts were adorned with Scarlet saucepans as a tribute to the town's history; the utensils have been transferred to the clubs' new ground, Parc y Scarlets. The Scarlets' official magazine is titled Sosban.
Bryn Terfel recorded the song on his 2000 album We'll Keep a Welcome.
When sung slowly, the melody can deceive non-speakers of Welsh into thinking the song is a hymn than rather than a folk song.
This song has been adopted by the fans of the rugby region, the Llanelli Scarlets. Many English variations can be heard in the stands during rugby matches.
After Llanelli beat a touring New Zealand side in November 1972, a new English chorus could be heard:Who beat the All Blacks, Who beat the All Blacks, Who beat the All Blacks Good old Sosban fach.
Other variations include the following.Who beat the Leicester Tigers? Who beat the Leicester Tigers? Good old Dafydd James
Dafydd James refers to a player who scored the winning points in a Heineken Cup match.
A verse was "uncovered" in Patagonia that is sung by descendants of welsh settlers and follows the second original verse:Fe gladdwyd y gath mewn lle doniol: Mewn bocs lle'r oedd Nain yn cadw'r startsh, A dodwyd ei chorff mewn beddrod, A'r band yn chwarae y death-march
("The cat was buried in a funny place / In a box where Granny kept starch / Her body was placed in a grave / And the band is playing the death march.")
Original verse by Mynyddog
Pan fyddo yr aelwyd yn oeri,
A'r anwyd yn dyfod o'r gwaed;
Pan fyddo y trwyn bron a rhewi
A'r winrew ar fysedd y traed;
Pan fo Catherine Ann wedi briwio
A Dafydd y gwas ddim yn iach,
A'r babi yn nadu a chrio
A'r gath wedi crafu John Bach:
Rhowch broc i'r tân,
A chanwch gân
I gadw'r cwerylon o'r aelwyd lân.
("When the hearth cools / And the blood runs cold; / When the nose is almost frozen / And the toes are freezing; / When Catherine Ann is hurt / And Dafydd the servant is not well, / And the baby is howling and crying / And the cat has scratched little John: / Put wood on the fire / And sing a song/ To keep quarrels away from the fair hearth")
Author Diana Wynne Jones refers to the song several times as 'Calcifer's silly saucepan song' in her book Howl's Moving Castle.
Dr J. D. Keith Palmer (M.A., Brun) in 1986 recorded a song in Norway. It is a slow rendering of the Sospan tune, called "folketone fra Hornindal". An ancient folk classic, it has a recent lyric by Arnulf Overland called "Om kvelden" - in the evening.
Swansea began in around AD 1000 as "Svein's Oy" as an island trading post of the Norsemen in the estuary of the Tawe river. It is claimed that this may have been an imported Norse melody, to be later rediscovered as "Sospan Fach"