These newspaper articles are provided to encourage Christians throughout the world to pray for, and to live expectantly of, a new revival in our day and age. As a young Christian living in South Wales I avidly read these Western Mail accounts and visited the locations of the scenes described, and my heart leapt at the prospect that God would do it again. It is my prayer that you too will know such encouragement from reading these accounts. However, these articles were, for the most part, written by unconverted men, and read in isolation will give you a one-sided view of the revival. There is a danger of outright rejection that this was a move of God, or a blind acceptance of the emotional, with no spiritual discernment of the true, life changing work of Grace that rocked a nation. Either reaction would be a great loss to the furtherance of the work of God, so please read these few words with an open and a warm heart, and then be astonished and full of praise at the things our God did for the people of Wales in 1904.
November 21ST. 1904.
REVIVAL WAVE IN WALES
FIRING UP THE MINING VALLEYS.
MEETINGS ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY.
DRAMATIC INCIDENTS AT PYLE AND BRIDGEND.
The spirit of the revival is spreading, and there is now ample evidence of the accuracy of the statement which 1 made in Wednesdays 'Western Mail' , that the churches of all denominations were, and had been waking, watching and praying for the wave now sweeping over the Southern half of the Principality of Wales. The visits of Mr Roberts and his singing evangelists appear to be what he aptly described them, "opening the doors" of the revival, for their work which is carried on by others is becoming vast in its extent, and wonderfully effective in its operations. People who attend his meetings get 'fired' with the seal of the revival and proceed to the neighbourhoods where they live and spread the infection not only in the churches, but in the works, in the streets, in the trains, and the subject has become, especially in the mining valleys, the principal topic of conversation among all classes of the community.
One excellent feature of the movement is the absolute freedom from sectarianism and the absence of any attempt at proselytism. The only gospel promulgated is the gospel of love, and the most effective sermon heard on Sunday, beyond question, was the performance of a young girl, with a beautiful voice, at Abercynon, singing with the most thrilling pathos :-
Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,
Tosturiaethan fel y Ili,
T'wysog bywyd pur yn marw-
Marw I byrnu'n bywyd ni,
Pwy & beidio cofio am dabo?
Pwy all beidio canu ei glod?
Dyma destyn na'd a'n anghof
Tra bo'r Nefoedd wan yin bod.
It was all the more effective because the words and music expressed the thoughts of all, and because the hymn expresses, in eight lines, the real gist of the gospel of this revival.
MARKET DAY GATHERING AT BRIDGEND.
But, in order to give some chronological order to this account of Saturday and Sundays principle gatherings, let me just glance at the movements of Mr Roberts and his immediate supporters. From Pontcymmer he went on Saturday to Bridgend. It was market day and there was a large influx of people from outlying districts, so the Town Hall was half filled by half past ten, and there was no difficulty in keeping the proceedings going, although (as in the case of the opening meeting in most of the places visited) there was what was described as a coldness which was not completely broken through for some time. Various well known people took part and towards the close a very fervent spirit prevailed, but no converts declared themselves. It was an unusual gathering, with no consecutive order in the doings, and the incidents were not remarkable when compared with what had occurred elsewhere.
But when Mr Roberts had left for Pyle and taken with him, that is they followed him, all the lay and ministerial elements of the place, there were extraordinary scenes enacted at the same Town Hall in Bridgend. Shortly after two o' clock in the afternoon there stood at the side door of the hall two young men and five young ladies singing the touching lines
Calon ian yn llawn daini,
Perffaith fel 1 lili dion,
Dim ond calon lan all ganu,
Canu'r dydd a chanu'n nos.
I entered and found the Town Hall absolutely empty, but 1 was quickly followed by the singers, and gradually by people from the street, and to see and hear the service that was conducted by these young people, alone and unaided except as they were, as they prayed, "directed by the Spirit', was a sight that 1 shall never forget. A working man who came and sat near me in his working clothes, remained untouched until one of the young women sang, "What a friend we have in Jesus", and he cried, - "Yes, He is my friend too", and the 'Diolch Iddo' which resounded through the half empty hall must have carried a message to the streets, for the crowd grew and grew until, between half past three and four, there was very large audience.
MR ROBERTS ELOQUENCE.
At Pyle the chapel was not overcrowded but it was a Saturday afternoon meeting, and the place was not so well calculated to attract outsiders as the populous mining districts. Yet is was here that Mr Evan Roberts proved that an injustice has been done him by me and others in the press. It has been said that he is not gifted with eloquence and that he has no pretensions to oratory. Well, he has no pretension, it is true, but those later services showed that his 'visions' are remarkable, not only in their influence upon himself, but in their influence, when related by him, upon others as well The dramatic incidents at Pyle will rank with the highest efforts of the silver tongued. imaginative, poetic preachers of the Welsh pulpit.
Mr Roberts had spoken calmly, deliberately, upon his work, and dwelt on the 'Love of Christ which passeth all understanding", when he suddenly asked, Is there no one here that will confess Christ? A young man faltering got up, and after cheering him with the remark that no one need to be ashamed to confess Christ, Mr Roberts said, "Strange that we are so weak as to be unable to face so few, like we have here, to acknowledge Jesus Christ'. He then went on with his eyes fixed upwards, I see a vision, 1 can see the King of Kings on His throne. 1 can see around Him, on each side of Him, and behind Him a vast throng, myriads of saints, angels, seraphim and cherubim, and before that throne stands our elder brother Jesus Christ. He stands there and boldly acknowledges us, acknowledges you and me in the presence of that vast assembly. Jesus does not falter, Jesus is not afraid, Jesus is not ashamed. Yet we very often are afraid. or ashamed or too weak to stand up before a few people to acknowledge the Saviour who died for us." The effect was remarkable!
Just one other touch, and I will have done with the Pyle meeting, Speaking of the vast work that is being done, Mr Roberts joyously clapped his hands and shouted, "Aba, Aba", but remarked that this sort of thing could not go on forever, this fever heat could not be kept going long, but let them keep R going as long as they could., let them keep it going with a swing (which he illustrated with a swing of his right arm), to raise the churches to higher level, and then they could "settle down to business". The converts at Pyle numbered fifteen, and two more actually declared themselves at Tindu Station.
FROM PYLE TO ABERGWNFI.
From Pyle to Abergwnfi Mr Evan Roberts went on Saturday evening and there was joined by the young men from Loughor, and the young ladies from the Bridgend Town Hall meeting. The crowded congregation was not as sympathetic at first as might have been anticipated, knowing how the people of the adjoining district have been caught by the 'fire' of the revival; but as time wore on there were remarkable scenes of excitement and enthusiasm. Mr Evan. Roberts appealed for active workers in the church, he declared that God does not want idle people, "You are not prepared", he asked, to take your off your coats?", and immediately a young collier in the gallery got up and actually pulled off his coat, which he threw upon the seat, declaring himself ready for work. The incident created much excitement, and was the means of arousing several others to call figuratively, though not so literally as the young man already mentioned.
Seeing the Abergwynfi meeting in full swing, after counting twenty seven coverts, Mr Roberts and his party proceeded to Abercynon, ready for Sundays meetings, and the torch which had ignited Abergwynfi was taken to Sundays scene of operations. Tabernacle Chapel at Abercynon was overcrowded even before Mr Evan Roberts appeared on Sunday morning, but the service seemed to much like the ordinary Sunday service to lead one to suspect what soon followed.
MR ROBERTS' TRUST IN THE FUTURE.
I have already referred to the .,sermon" in the wonderfully touching hymn rendered by one of the young ladies. It was not the first incident of the meeting, bid it was "the sermon" for Mr Roberts did not preach a sermon. The gentleman who read a portion of scripture, read with the spirit of one touched by the 'living fire'. The congregational singing was at times very effective, but the "sermon" contained in that pathetic hymn caught the congregation and swayed it considerably with emotion- The missioner (Mr Roberts) in the course of his address spoke very solemnly of the value of a soul. "The purchase price of one soul", he said, "was the Divine Blood." He declared that he had, like others in the past, more or less been imbued with the spirit for material position, for an easy retirement from active life, and so forth, but he had now given all to God, and did not trouble to look ahead. The God who called for these things, was the God who would provide for all. He had among the letters received last night one containing a cheque for one guinea, the donor asking him not to refuse it. Refuse it? No' He took it for God and would use K for God's work. Another letter told him to write if he needed money, so that God opened hearts to provide, and he had absolutely no care for the future. Some people, he said, strained their eyes to look ahead, and did not see or smell the beautiful flowers at their feet. Then he came to a climax in relating a simple incident. While listening to a sermon in Newcastle Emlyn once, he said, he received much more of the Spirit of the Gospel from what he saw than from what he heard. The preacher was doing very well, was warming with his work and sweating with the energy of his delivery.. And when he (Evan Roberts) saw the sweat on the preachers brow he looked beyond and saw another vision; his Lord sweating the bloody sweat in the garden (and then as Mr Roberts thought of the vision he utterly broke down). The congregation sang "Diolch Iddo and presently Mr Roberts recovered sufficiently to proceed. On this occasion he invited those who were saved to stand on their feet. The majority of the congregation did so. He then invited those who wished to confess Jesus to rise, and several responded. He urged his friends to take down the names, and presently he and others spoke earnestly and privately to others who had not risen. They were not in all cases successful, but at the morning service the new roll call numbered nineteen, among them being people from Ynshir Ysysybwl Pontypridd, Treharris and other places. Thus is the "fire" spread.
In the afternoon the meeting was held at the Welsh Congregational Chapel, one of the largest sacred buildings in the Town, and the accommodation then was quite inadequate, and an overflow meeting was held at Bethania. A pathetic rendering of a Welsh hymn was given by Miss Stevens, who broke down, but quickly recovered herself. Mr Roberts spoke for over an hour, and remarked that although some people laughed and scorned the movement, he did nor mind and trusted the Holy Spirit.
AN ATHEISTS CONVERSION. YOUNG MANS DRAMATIC CONVERSION AT TRECYNON.
The meeting at Ebenezer and Bryn Sein Chapels at Trecynon which began at 7 o' clock on Friday evening, lasted until 5 o' clock on Saturday morning.
As briefly reported in our columns on Saturday, the clock at the former chapel was on the stroke of midnight when the figure of a well known Trecyonite became the cynosure of all eyes. Those who knew the young man were somewhat taken aback at his erect attitude. "He it an atheist", was an observation which fell from many lips "What has brought him to his feet? was a question which came from other people. The young man proceeded to lay bare his past life. " have read books which taught me here was no God", he said, with a deliberate voice, "but 1 shall not look at them anymore, for 1 have burnt them all today." Then he went on his knees and offered a prayer which was wholly unlike the numberless other prayers already heard under the same roof. 1 was shipwrecked", he continued, "and 1 could see the fearless waves gradually gather about the little plank which stood between me and hell. Just as 1 was disappearing, however. 1 beheld the majestic face of our Saviour, who, speaking in tones which were so different from those which whispered into my ears as 1 read those accursed books, invited me into His embrace. 1 went, and, thank God, light has succeeded obscurity."
An intimate friend of the convert got up in another part of the chapel and spoke of the many discussions which he and his companions had had, "But there will be no more", he concluded, "as we have both been saved at last".
Another striking scene occurred at Bryn Seion. The chief actor was an elderly person, who had always been regarded as one almost beyond redemption. I first heard about the revival through the Western Mail", he exclaimed, "and 1 must say that it is through this paper, and the Evening Express, 1 was induced to attend these meetings. All of us owe our thanks to those two papers for the great help they have done to the cause of the revival which has brought me from the darkness of sin into the Holy Spirit.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon