William Fowler is perhaps best known for writing the text to the well-beloved hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” He wrote the text sometime before he immigrated to Utah in 1863 where he settled in Manti, Utah, and taught school. Fowler took the funeral march written by nonmember Caroline Sheridan Norton and adapted it to fit his poem of faith in the Restoration. The hymn was published first in the 1863 hymnbook and has continued to be a favorite of the Saints.
Fowler was born on May 9, 1830, in Australia. His mother was Irish and his father was English and in the British military. The family relocated to India when Fowler was three years old. When he was nine, his father was honorably discharged from the army, and the family moved to Sheffield, England. He lost both of his parents within four years after the move back to England. He was age 15 when he was orphaned.
He was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized in 1849, which lost him his job in a factory in Sheffield. He served as a missionary in England from 1850 to 1854. He also wrote poems for the Millennial Star.
Fowler and his wife, Ellen, were the parents of three children. He died at the young age of 35 on August 25, 1865.