Vanja Watkins: Mormon Songwriter
Vanja Yorgason Watkins is a songwriter of both words and music of hymns for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including (from the 1985 Hymnbook) “Press Forward, Saints” and “Families Can Be Together Forever” and “Easter Hosanna,” “This Is My Beloved Son,” “I Will Follow God’s Plan,” songs on all thirteen Articles of Faith, among others, from the Children’s Songbook.
She was born to musical parents in 1938 who infused music into her upbringing. She learned to play the piano and often accompanied choral groups. She sang in a chorale during college. A member of the LDS Church, Watkins also served on the music committee of the Primary General Board and on the General Music Committee, where she also worked on the 1985 Hymnbook Executive Committee. She has directed four choirs at General Conference and has presented at the BYU Workshop on Church Music.
Watkins is also a music educator who taught in the Ogden City schools (Utah), the Salt Lake City schools, and the Brigham Young University School of Music. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BYU.
She and her husband, the late Dr. Jack B. Watkins, are the parents of five children.