Joseph G. Fones

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Joseph G. Fones was born June 18, 1828, in Gornell, South Staffordshire, England. His mother died when he was two years old, but his father remarried soon. He went to work in the coal mine at a young age. When his father died, he moved in with a relative and began to gain an education through Sunday School, reading the Bible, and persistence to teach himself. He learned to play the flute and viola, and sang. He began studying music at the age of seventeen. At the age of 45 he began to compose.

He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 5, 1851. He moved with his wife and children to Willinghall where he was injured in a cave-in in the Iron Stone mines in 1854. Although he was expected to die within an hour of the accident, he asked for the elders of the Church to administer to him and he survived. In 1867, he removed to Barrow in Furness in Lancashire. He immigrated to Utah in 1879 and settled first in Union, then in Mona, back to Union, and finally in Sandy, where he organized choirs and bands. He passed away in 1906.

Fones served in many ways in the Church. He wrote many hymns and anthems, some of which appeared in the Juvenile Instructor. One of his best-known hymns today is “Beautiful Zion, Built Above,” which was included in the 1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.