Kathryn Jenkins was born 9 June 1961 in Tonypandy, Rhondda Valley, the only child of Clement and Marion Jenkins. Clement Jenkins was an Electricity Board engineer and though he and his wife spoke little Welsh, they were faithful and active members in Bethania, the Presbyterian Church of Wales chapel in Llwynypia, where their daughter began her lifelong love of the Welsh hymn tradition. From the local primary school Kathryn went to Tonypandy grammar school in 1972, leaving in 1979 having gained her A levels in music - she was a good pianist and organist - English and Welsh. She graduated with 1st- class honours in Welsh at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1982 and then, holding a British Academy research scholarship, she was a research student at Aberystwyth from 1982 to 1985, Sir John Rhŷs Scholar at Jesus College Oxford 1985-86 and she gained her PhD at Aberystwyth in 1987.
After a brief spell as assistant warden at Trefeca College, the Presbyterian Church lay centre, she returned to Aberystwyth as Reseach Fellow from 1988 to 1992 when she was appointed lecturer in Welsh at St. David's University College Lampeter. Much to the surprise of most of her friends and acquaintances she resigned from her post in 1999 and joined the civil service in 2000 as Deputy Editor of the Transactions of Proceedings at the new National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. She subsequently became a Committe Clerk, a position that she held at the time of her death.
Kathryn Jenkins was a natural administrator and a born leader, full of forward-looking ideas. She was elected an Elder in her church in 1986 and she was a lay preacher. She was invested with the White Robe of the Gorsedd of Bards in 1993. She was an effective college lecturer and a popular guest speaker at many societies up and down the country. She was a member of the University of Wales Court from 1998 onwards and also of the University Board of Celtic Studies; she served as chair of the Presbyterian Church Education Board and as President of Bala College from 1993 to 1998. But there is no doubt that the offices that gave her most satisfaction, and where she made her most important contribution, were those that she held at various times in the Welsh Hymn Society, as publicity officer, secretary, Treasurer 1992-98, and an innovative President from 1998 until her death. Her last public activity was to chair a meeting of the Society's executive committee the day befoe she died. She was also a member of the executive of the British and Irish Hymn Society 1998-2004 and lectured at the conference of the International Hymn Society in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2003.
Kathryn Jenkins was a knowledgeable and astute literary historian and critic and published work on 19th and 20th century literature but her abiding passion was for ‘classical’ Welsh hymnody and the work of William Williams (Pantycelyn) in particular. Her PhD dissertation was on his place in the history of the Welsh hymn and over the years she published a stream of articles on aspects of his work. In the anthology of his hymns that she prepared in 1991 on the bicentenary of his death, Anthem Angau Calfari, she was able to combine her scholarship and her personal devotion. A collecton of her articles, Cân y Ffydd (ed. Rhidian Griffiths) was published posthumously in 2011, a collection that contains the lecture she gave in Halifax which reveals the new and theoretical approach that she was beginning to develop in her studies of hymnody.
Kathryn Jenkins married Alan Jones in 1993; there were no children from the marriage. She died suddenly at her home in Llangybi, Ceredigion, on 3 May 2009. The funeral service was held in Maesyffynnon chapel, Llangybi, 11 May, followed by cremation in Aberystwyth crematorium.
Published date: 2013-03-12
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