John Parry

(Early Welsh convert, founder and director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
John Parry was born in the village of Newmarket, North Wales in 1789. He was gifted as a poet and musician
and had the chance to perform for the Prince of Wales. He was also a lay preacher of the Church of England.
On investigating the Baptist faith he though its teaching on baptism was more correct than the sprinkling of
infants, so he left the old faith and became a Baptist, many following him. Later, he joined the Campbellites
or Apostles Church. When he heard of the restored gospel he though it was too good to be true and warned
his sons against it, but after a thorough and prayerful investigation he was convinced of its truth and was
baptized along with his wife Mary Williams in 1846. They were influential in building the Church in Wales.
Before immigrating, John, accompanied by his daughter, Sarah, also a beautiful singer, sang and preached
throughout the country around about his village home.
Deciding to join their brothers and sisters in America, the Parry’s and about 100 Welsh Saints sailed from
Liverpool, England in 1849, aboard the Buena Vista. Arriving successfully in America, the group traveled on
to Iowa in the George A. Smith/Dan Jones Company. Mary Parry died of cholera the same day the party
arrived at Council Bluffs, Iowa. John accompanied his son Caleb and daughter-in-law Catherine to Utah.
John on arriving in Zion in 1849 with a large group of saints took city lot of 1 1/4 acres on the North West corner
of South Temple and Fifth West Street, where he planted a small orchard and grew garden stuff of all kinds, also
sugar beets and sugar cane. He was in ill health after his arrival in Utah so he wasn’t able to work in his trade as
a stone mason as much as he wanted, but he was able to assist some in the building of the Salt Lake and Logan Temples.
At general conference in 1849, John directed 85 Welsh converts in several musical numbers. President Brigham Young commented, “Now I know what angels
sound like.” Shortly thereafter John was asked by President Brigham Young to form a choir with his singing group as the core. The new choir evolved into what
is now known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and John Parry was the first director. “John Parry is a crucial key to the history of our great Tabernacle Choir,” said
Brother Fox. “He was a gifted vocalist and music director.”
As the years passed, John was called to be a high councilor in Salt Lake in 1851 and helped build the wall around the Salt Lake Temple. He married Patty Bartlett
Sessions in 1851 and during the next two years married Grace Ann Williams, a sister of his deceased wife Mary, and Harriet Parry, one of his first cousins. John Parry
was the father of 12 children, the last of whom was born when he was 73. John Parry continued his leadership until 1854, when he was called on a mission to Great
Britain. John Parry died in 1868 in Salt Lake City.
His testimony: “…there have never been on the earth more than two Churches; one of God and one of the devil,… please know that the Saints are the Church of the
living God, and the only sanctuary under all the heavens; and despite the world and all its sectarian servants, Mormonism will prosper until all the world will be
under its leadership… in spite of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph, in spite of the persecution and the killing of the Saints, Mormonism will stand like eternal
columns, and it would be easier for you to keep the sun from shining than to extinguish Mormonism or to cause it to fall. Whatever you think, so it will be; it shall
stand when the elements melt from intense heat, and when the heavens are folded like a book. Jehovah is the Mormonism of this people, their Priesthood, and their
power, and everything which belongs to him shall come up in the appointed day, and shall stand before the eternal King, and shall receive the crown of life.”

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