Church History
Welsh Influence on Latter-day Saint Music

Welsh Influence on Latter-day Saint Music

Parry, John

John Parry

Wales has long been known for its stories and songs, and Welsh Latter-day Saints have had a major impact on music in the Church. In 1849, Brigham Young asked John Parry Sr., a convert from Newmarket, to form a choir for the Church’s next general conference. Parry gathered 85 Welsh singers for the performance, and it soon became a tradition to have a large choir perform in the tabernacle.

A generation later, another Welshman, Evan Stephens, helped the Mormon Tabernacle Choir establish its broader reputation. Born into a Latter-day Saint family in Pencader, Stephens led the choir in its performance at the Welsh-style eisteddfod at the 1893 World’s Fair. The choir’s widely praised performance paved the way for future tours. Stephens was also an accomplished writer and composer; his work appears more frequently in the Latter-day Saint hymnal than that of any other artist.

Welsh Latter-day Saint immigrants often settled together and maintained many cultural traditions. In the early 20th century, Malad, Idaho, still held an annual eisteddfod. Mabel Jones Gabbott, the lyricist who contributed the most to the Children’s Songbook, credited Welsh traditions of song and story as a key influence on her literary development.