Llyfr Mormon: The first foreign language Book of Mormon

While not the first official version, the Book of Mormon was, however, first translated into Welsh 17 April 1852.  As I think about that I marvel that one man, John Davis almost singlehandly translated and published the Book and the Doctrine and Covenants into Welsh. 

Most of the work of the translation and later sales drive was published in the Welsh LDS periodical the Udgorn Seion or Zion’s Trumpet in English.  It is hard to imagine the church in Wales, coverting Welsh only speakers with nothing more than the words of their missionaries but yet it was done for nearly a decade.1

As Welsh population gathered to Zion and the Welsh themselves began to Anglicize there was less need for the book and it fell into disuse.  The Church re-issued the Llyfr Mormon in the last few years.

Thomas Conway after the Book was about to be issued sent this poem published in the Trumpet (18 October 1851, 331–32).

Rejoice, all you monoglot Welshmen,
We shall have the wish of us all,
Namely the translation of the BOOK OF MORMON
Into our harmonious and unfading language:
The fulness of times has come,
For the God of heaven to give to us,
The secrets he gave to Mormon,
And his dear associates.
Here is the book that for many years,
Namely for fourteen hundred,
Was in the earth at Cumorah,
Like some fair and beautiful treasure;
It was like the setting sun
For such a long time:
Now it is like the shining sun
Rising to do its work.

Its light is spreading,
Through different languages of the world,
Now it is coming to the Welsh,
Oh, how lovely it gladdens our hearts;
“And at that day the deaf
Will hear the words of this book,
The eyes of the blind will see out
Of the cloud and darkness,” I know.
The light of the Book is so dazzling,
That it darkens the weak eyes,
But the eyes will grow strong again,
They will see better presently;
An object of great surprise to the Welsh,
Will be the Book of Mormon when it comes,
In the language of their birth;
Now it is almost here.

Ronald D. Dennis, “Llyfr Mormon: The Translation of the Book of Mormon into Welsh,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 11 No. 1, (2002) 45–49.


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