As a young man he was apprenticed as a cutler, but also studied music and trained to become an organist.
He became the organist at the countess of Huntingdon chapel as well as the conductor of the ‘Octagon Orchestral Society’. Foreign the next few years he held organist positions at Street Paul’s Church in Broughton and Street Bride’s Church, and was then organist and choirmaster at Street Mary's Welsh Church in Chester. lieutenant is from this time that his earliest music is to be found (‘Calfari’, published in the Haleliwia collection of 1849), and his first major success came soon after, winning at the Rhuddlan eisteddfod of 1851 with his composition ‘Deborah a Barac’.
At the Llangollen ‘national eisteddfod’ in 1858, Owen (who was an adjudicator) and others in attendance were treated for the first time to the recently penned anthem ‘Glan Rhondda’, part of the selection of Thomas Llewelyn (Llewelyn Alaw) of Aberdare.
Llewelyn went on to share first prize at the eisteddfod, and Owen was clearly impressed by the tune. Owen played a major role in popularising ‘Glan Rhondda’, singing it at concerts throughout north Wales, and then publishing it in his widely used Gems of Welsh Melody collection of 1860 (where he gave it the more familiar modern name, ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’).
Owen continued to compose, perform and adjudicate in his later years, and also edited and contributed to several collections of Welsh music and poetry that were published in the 1860s and 1870s (including Tonau yr Ysgol Sabothol and Y Gyfres Gerddorol). Of his own works, several songs appeared in Y Gyfres Gerddorol and in many other collections, and his oratorio Jeremiah was published in 1878.
Owen died at the age of sixty-one on January 29, 1883, and was buried in Chester.
Rhuddlan, 1851: ‘Deborah a Barac’
Tremadoc, 1851: ‘Gweddi Habacuc’ (tied with John Ambrose Lloyd)
London, 1855: ‘Can Mair’
Merthyr Tydfil: ‘Y Ddaeargryn’
Llanrwst, 1859: ‘Arnat Ti y Llefais’
Caernarfon: ‘Tywysog Cymru’
Chester, 1866: ‘Gŵyl Gwalia’.