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John Hughes was born in 1873 in Wales. At age twelve he was the door boy at the coal mine at Llantwit Fardre, Glamorganshire. Later he worked as clerk at the Great Western Colliery in Pontypridd, in Rhondda Valley. He succeeded his father as deacon and presentor at Salem Baptist Church.
Hughes wrote many hymn tunes, Sunday School marches and anthems. He is best known for the hymn tune CWM RHONDDA, to which we sing "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah."