Crescent Congregational Chapel (1905)



“Aeth yn brydnawn, mae yu hwyrhau, Mae drws trugaredd heb ei gau” (“The noonday’s gone, ‘tis getting late; the door of mercy’s still ajay”), was sung with power by the huge congregation in the Crescent Congregational Chapel, Liverpool, this evening, and it may well be mentioned at the outset that the hymn had been struck up by Vicar Pritchard, of Rhos, who occupied a seat on the platform among ministers and leading laymen. But, although the door of mercy was still ajar, the doors of the chapel had been closed for upwards of two hours and while there were surging crowds all around the chapel, there were crowded congregations in three other chapels. The English Congregational Chapel, historic in its associations, handsome and capacious in its accommodation, presented a magnificent sight long before seven o’clock, and the service from the commencement was of a spontaneous character and marked by the prevalence of prayer. There was a kind of spiritual electricity in the atmosphere of the service, even before the arrival of Mr Evan Roberts, and no wonder the gathering afterwards became an extraordinary one for its overwhelming fervour. Let me first interpolate a few words as to the evangelist’s movements during the day. First of all, then, he visited a women’s meeting at David street Calvinistic Methodist Chapel in the course of the afternoon. He then drove with the Rev. J. Williams to West Derby and rested until the evening meeting at councillor Henry Jones’s residence in Hayman’s Green. He arrived in the Crescent Chapel about half-past seven o’clock accompanied by Miss Mary Roberts (his sister), Miss Annie Davies (Maesteg), and the Rev. J. Williams (Princes-road), and almost immediately he rose to address the congregation. “The Spirit is here is great power,” he said. “I need not tell you that; you know it. What we want to do is keep Him here, and the way to do that is by obedience. Shall we be obedient tonight?” Proceeding to speak of the duties of members of Christian Churches, he said the ideal life could only be reached when each one could speak of Jesus Christ as “My Jesus. Some would speak of “Our Jesus,” but did not get near enough to enable them to say “My Jesus.” When they could say “My Jesus,” the work became “my work.” Then taking the hymn, “O llefara, addwyn Iesu,” (“Let me hear thee gentle Jesus”) as his text for a while, Mr Evan Roberts made impressive and pathetic use of the lines and then remarked that Jesus Christ marched through duty to joy. But He overcame every obstacle. “Is there no one here to praise Him for what He did for us?” asked the evangelist, and instantly a man in the body of the chapel rose and shouted, “Yes, I will praise Him. He has done great things with me. I have been filled with this tone since I heard your brother, Dan Roberts, and I hope everyone here is ready to receive and to praise Jesus Christ.” The man then, amid shouts of “Amen,” thanked God for the evangelists and for the revival. Resuming his remarks, Mr. Evan Roberts said that, since last night, he had been deeply moved by a great yearning for greater glory to Go, and speaking for the readiness of Jesus Christ at all times, he became deeply moved, and while he was speaking Miss Annie Davies (Maesteg) sang with wonderful effect – as thrilling as any of her extraordinary outbursts in South Wales – the soul-stirring love song of the revival, “Dyma gariad fel y moroedd” (Here is love like mighty torrents”), and while she was singing a man in the body of the chapel prayed fervently in Welsh. Mr Evan Roberts again spoke, but evidently laboured under deep emotion. As he dwelt upon the Saviour’s love and the Saviour’s sacrifice the congregation sang spontaneously until the tension was relieved. In further remarks he dealt with the importance of always keeping steadfast. “Think of fidelity,” he said, “Jesus was faithful even unto death – faithful when the loving disciples left Him – faithful while the disciples slept. But Jesus did not sleep; He was always in time, and yet there were people, Welsh people – who did not appreciate this.” By this time the service was at a pitch of great enthusiasm, and Mr Evan Roberts thanked God for such a service, It was easy to realise, he said, that this was a worshipping congregation. “But,” he said, “there are some Welsh people who reject the Saviour. Reject Him? ‘No’ they said, ‘we don’t reject Him.’ Well, if they do not receive Him they reject Him, and, “ added Mr Evan Roberts, “I dread the idea of seeing on the left hand of the Judge on that great day any Welshman.” While this remarkable touching address was preceding the sound of enthusiastic hymn singing carried on outside the chapel by thousands of people could be heard by those inside. In the midst of the enthusiasm Mr Roberts declared that if they were fired by the love of Christ they would never say a service was cold. It depended upon the man himself. He remembered at one service in South Wales where the spiritual temperature was as high as it was here tonight. One man complained that the service was cold. It would have been better if he had not spoken, for he was like an iceberg in the midst of the fire. (Laughter.) Some might say “Remember the sanctity of the place,” and wonder at these smiling faces, but there was no holier place, surely, that Heaven, and where was there a place with so much joy in it? A man in the congregation sang a wonderfully pathetic solo and then broke out into prayer, thanking God for permitting him to stand up for Jesus Christ. A Rhos minister prayed eloquently and gave thanks for the joy which now prevailed on earth and in heaven. They came a great wave of simultaneous prayer, some praying in Welsh and some in English, forming a great incident, far beyond anything yet witnessed at Liverpool for intense pathos. This continued for a considerable time. During a quiet minute a woman prayed that the ministers of Liverpool might be “bent” (“plygu”), and instantly there was an outburst of hymn singing of the “musical closure” description. Mr Evan Roberts, speaking calmly and pleasantly, said they must expect the bitter with the sweet., “But don’t let us have any more of that tonight,” he said. “We only want the name of Jesus – the name which gives a sweet savour to everything.” Then simultaneous prayer again broke out. Let me here give a few outside incidents. As indicating the accuracy of Evan Roberts’ “sensitive” gauging of a meeting, I want to point out an instance concerning tonight’s meeting. Amongst those who had come to the meeting was a well-known Socialist writer, who, speaking to some journalistic friends around him, treated the proceedings somewhat lightly. When Evan Roberts came in and began speaking one of the startling questions put by the evangelist was “What of the scoffer who is here?” The question certainly silenced the visitor, who became quite serious. Evan Roberts declared that there was not so much mockery and the laughter had stopped, but that the scoffer was still present. Presently the visitor left the chapel and, strange to say (although Evan Roberts could not possibly have known the man or of his presence or departure), the evangelist released the service of the command he had given not to sing and said the meeting was then clear. Here is something of a totally different kind, but not less interesting, showing the happy knack which the evangelist has of saying the right thing in the right place and at the psychological moment. A trained nurse, who had met Mr Evan Roberts at the residence of the Rev. John Williams, asked if it were not possible to get one of Mr Roberts’s private cards as a memento. The request was not immediately complied with, but tonight at supper Mr Roberts suddenly thought of the nurse and got up from the table to get her a card. It was suggested to him that she might have a message on it. “Yes,” replied Mr Roberts, “I have just had a verse for her” and he wrote on the back of his card “I was sick, and ye visited Me, and the card with its appropriate inscription became at once a valuable and prized memento. Now, to return to the meeting once more. I want to emphasize the fact that, joyful, triumphant and spontaneous as this was, it formed not only the most glorious yet held in Liverpool, but it was equal in temperature and joyousness to anything witnessed in South Wales, although not quite so demonstrative, perhaps, as some meetings. The people when asked to show their side rose to their feet. “Are there any seated?” asked Mr Williams. “If so, speak to them kindly.” “Offer them Jesus,” added Evan Roberts, and no sooner had he added the words than someone shouted, “Here’s one,” and “Diolch Iddo” rang with a dedicated note of triumph in it throughout the chapel. “Offer Jesus again, there is another ready to come,” continued Evan Roberts. “There is one here,” cried a voice, and again that victorious “Diolch Iddo” sung rapidly and joyously, resounded from floor to ceiling. “Offer Jesus again,” said Evan Roberts, after he had himself prayed silently, as he did between each “offer”, and a voice came “One here.” Thus went on this marvellous and striking, “test”. Then he said: “Half a minute. Offer Jesus again. There is one ready to come. There is one man idle here and ashamed to offer Jesus. There is a Welshman –” The after a pause, he added, “Or a Welsh woman ready to come.” A woman’s voice from the gallery (in Welsh) said, “Dyma fi’n dod” (“I am coming”), and the “Diolch Iddo” was almost startling in its power.

From, 'The Western Mail', 5th April 1905.