Charles William Penrose

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Charles W. Penrose Mormon Apostle
Charles W. Penrose former Mormon Apostle

Charles William Penrose was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also served as a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church under Presidents Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant.

Early Life

Penrose was born February 4, 1832, in London, England. It is rumored that he read the scriptures at the age of 4. When he was 18, he was introduced to the Church and baptized in London on May 14, 1850. He met and married Lucetta Stratford, with whom he had three children.

Mission and Emigration to Utah

After joining the LDS Church, Penrose was called to serve a mission throughout England, which he did for about 7 years. In 1861, he emigrated to Utah. Shortly after, he was called on another mission to England. After this mission he finally settled in Ogden, Utah, where he became an important figure in the community and the Church, especially because of his writing ability. He wrote several missionary tracts, and lyrics to LDS Hymns, including God of Our Fathers, O Ye Mountains High, and Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion. He was also involved in newspaper publishing and eventually became the editor of the Deseret News.

Some of Penrose’s lyrics appear in a few of the Hymns included in the Hymnal used by the Church today, including: Beautiful Zion for Me, God of Our Fathers, We Come Unto Thee, O Ye Mountains High, School Thy Feelings, and Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion (with modified lyrics, 1985).


After serving faithfully in various callings within the Church for 54 years, Penrose was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on July 7, 1904. On December 7, 1911, he was called to serve in the First Presidency as Second Counselor to President Joseph F. Smith. Upon Smith’s death in 1918, the First Presidency was re-organized on November 23, 1918, and President Heber J. Grant called Penrose to again serve as Second Counselor in the First Presidency. On March 21, 1921 he was called to serve as First Counselor in the First Presidency after the death of the Anton H. Lund who had previously filled that position. Penrose served in this calling until his death on May 16, 1925 from chronic prostatitis.