Charles William Penrose

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Charles W. Penrose Mormon Apostle
Charles W. Penrose, former Latter-day Saint 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 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 Church, Penrose was called to serve a mission throughout England, which he did for about seven 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 Latter-day Saint 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. He also worked as an assistant to the Church Historian and Recorder.

Some of Penrose’s lyrics appear in a few of the hymns included in in the 1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 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 reorganized 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 Anthon H. Lund who had previously filled that position. Penrose served in this calling until his death on May 16, 1925, from chronic prostatitis.