Born in a house called Rhyd-y-sarn in the parish of Maentwrog, Merionethshire, and christened (as Edward Jones) in the church of S. Michael, Ffestiniog, 15 December 1822. His father could sing to the harp whilst his mother was also a good singer. The family moved to Penmount Bach and afterwards to Ty'n-y-maes, Llan Ffestiniog. After he had attended Penralltgoch school he was apprenticed to his brother, William Stephen, a clothier. When he was 18 he began to preach at Saron Congregational church, Llan Ffestiniog, and in 1843 he went to the Bala Congregational college. As he found there was another student named Edward Jones, he adopted the additional surname of Stephen after his grandfather's Christian name Stephen Jones. He had previously studied music and when he was at college he wrote several hymn-tunes. In 1847 he was ordained as minister of Horeb Congregational church, Dwygyfylchi, Caernarfonshire. During his ten years’ stay there he became well known throughout Wales as a preacher, poet, lecturer, writer, and musician.
It was at Dwygyfylchi that he composed the oratorio, Ystorm Tiberias, which was begun 28 January 1851 and finished 28 May 1852. This oratorio was the first of its kind written by a Welshman. The work, which was published in 1855 in seven parts, a revised edition appearing in 1887, was performed in several places in Wales, whilst some of the choruses became eisteddfod test pieces. In 1856 he became minister of Bethlehem and Carmel churches, Llanllechid. His Requiem in memory of the Rev. John Jones, Tal-y-sarn, was composed in 1858. In 1859 he became editor of Cerddor y Cysegr. Llyfr Tonau ac Emynau, edited by Stephen and J. D. Jones, Ruthin, appeared in 1868, Stephen publishing a supplement in 1879. He edited Greal y Corau from April 1861 until May 1863 (the last number that was issued). He contributed articles on congregational singing to Y Cronicl and Y Dysgedydd. Of his anthems, those called ‘Llawen floeddiwch i Dduw,’ ‘Wrth afonydd Babilon,’ and ‘Disgwyliad Israel,’ were the best-known; of his numerous hymn-tunes, ‘Tanymarian’ continues to be popular.
He was much in demand as a vocalist and used to delight audiences with some songs composed by himself, e.g. ‘Hen Gadair Freichiau,’ ‘Caingc y delyn,’ and ‘Carlo’; he also used to give a popular lecture on music, was a very able music adjudicator at eisteddfodau, and was a most acceptable conductor of hymnody festivals. Examples of poems which he wrote are given in Cofiant Tanymarian, written by W. J. Parry.
He died 10 May 1885 and was buried in Bethlehem chapel graveyard, Tal-y-bont, Llanllechid.
Published date: 1959
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