The History of “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”
William Fowler only lived to age 35, but he accomplished—and traveled—a lot during his life. His father was in the British military, which resulted in several relocations for the family. By the time Fowler was nine, he had lived in three different countries—Australia, India, and England. Toward the end of his short life, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean and eventually settled in Manti, Utah.
Tragically, Fowler was orphaned when he was 15 years old. Four years later, in 1849, he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fowler, who served as a missionary in England for about four years, wrote the lyrics to “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” sometime between 1860 and 1863. The hymn is #19 in the LDS Hymnbook and has been sung during many general conferences (as in the video above) by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in honor of the Church's current leader, who is also the adviser to the Choir. For more information on the history behind this hymn, listen to Episode 1 of the History of Hymns series on The Mormon Channel. Below is a photo of Fowler’s grave in Manti, Utah.