Welsh Wesleyan Methodist Chapel - Liverpool (1905)



Mr Evan Roberts was amongst the Welsh “pagans” of Liverpool on Saturday night. The meeting - the fourth of the mission - was held in the Welsh Wesleyan Chapel, Shaw-street, and in theory admission was restricted to ticket holding non-church adherents. The chapel was packed with a congregation numbering from 1,200 to 1,500, while outside the gates were fully a thousand more including a large ticketless contingent from Wrexham. From the very first a note of outstanding enthusiasm and devotion was struck, and it was impossible to believe that anything like the bulk of the congregation were strangers to the means of grace and the exercises of worship. Before long the suspicion was confirmed that, by some means which remains unexplained, the intention of the committee had been very largely frustrated by the wholesale entry of well dressed, respectable, and comfortable looking church goers and members, who had either been admitted without tickets or had obtained the tickets intended for others. At the end of the first half hour the Rev. W. O. Evans announced that a large number of non-adherents were waiting outside the gates anxious to come in, and he urgently appealed to the Church members present to leave and make room for them. Only about half a dozen people had the courtesy to comply with the request, and the character of the gathering, consequently, remained practically unaltered. While the hymn “Pen Calfaria” was being sung, at a quarter past seven, Mr Evan Roberts arrived, in the company of his sister and Miss Davies and the Revs. John Williams (Princes Road) and Thomas Charles Williams (Menai Bridge). The evangelist appeared to be unusually happy and light-hearted. Ascending the pulpit, he took a seat well to the front, and, in his favourite attitude of elbow on rail and face on hand he smilingly surveyed the congregation. Fifteen minutes later, in the middle of a hymn, he got up and opened the Bible. The singing stopped. “Sing on, sing on” he said, and the praise was continued with tremendous vigour and effect. Meantime, Evan Roberts resumed his searching survey of the congregation, the expression on his mobile face alternating from light to shade and from shade to light. Then Miss Annie Davies started the love song of the revival, but before she had got past the first verse she burst into passionate prayer. “If there be anyone here that knows not thy infinite love, O Divine Father, save him, save him.” “Achub, achub” (“Save, save”), she implored and then subsided into a paroxysm if sobbing. Spontaneous prayers then broke out from every part of the building. “Remember Manchester, where I live” was one petition, while others prayed for themselves, their loved ones, or their comrades in the workshop. An unseen man in the gallery gave vent to his feelings in a sacred solo sung in a fine baritone voice, and simultaneous petitions in Welsh and English, now imploring and now exulting, followed for a considerable time. The slightest tendency to singing was on several occasions encouraged by the evangelist. “Hush, hush” came in a whisper from those unused to revival usages when prayer and praise became intermingled and more or less unintelligible. “No, no,” said the revivalist, “there must be no hushing; sing on”. After a while the evangelist again stood up, and, smiling continuously he gave an earnest, well reasoned, and powerfully persuasive address on the text. “Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” with which he interwove the parable of the Prodigal Son. “Dewch ‘nol heno” (“come back tonight”), he pleaded. “Your Father calls you and watches for you, and His outstretched arms are ready to receive you”, “Diolch Iddo” (“Thanks be to Him”), said a workman on the ground floor. “Yes,” said the evangelist, with his beautiful smile, “Diolch Iddo for all eternity.” Subsequently the Rev. John Williams “tested” the meeting in the usual way, and as a result converts were announced from all parts of the chapel, each declaration being followed by the singing of “Diolch Iddo”. While a lady was singing a solo the evangelist, whose mood had changed almost in an instant, declared excitedly that the spirit had now moved away. “There are church members here,” he said, “who have not prayed, and who are even jealous of conversions that have been made. Pray for forgiveness. Jealous because Jesus is being glorified! There is to be no singing yet. Pray,” After a while he again spoke: “There are some who have not yet asked for pardon. The work is going on blessedly, but there are five persons here who are hindering it. Will they go out please? There will be no more saying till then. If things don’t improve, I shall go. I cannot stand it any more.” The Rev. John Williams suggested in a whisper that the obstructionists might by non-adherents. “No, no,” said the evangelist, in English; “they are Christians; they are still here. Perhaps names will be given just now” Another minister suggested that they might be English friends who had not understood. “No, no,” was the reply again. “They are all Welsh friends.” Thereupon the evangelist subsided into a fit of intense anguish, moaning and rocking himself to and fro. “O Lord,” he prayed aloud, “bend them, bend them.” A flood of congregational prayer started, but the evangelist commanded silence. “Don’t ask God to save,” he said. “He is not listening now. Three of these five preach the gospel. There will be an awful bending one of these days.” This declaration produced a painful sensation, bordering on dismay, and the Rev. John Williams essayed to close the service by pronouncing the Benediction. The evangelist, apparently heard not, and certainly took no heed. Somebody started an English prayer. “No, no,” said Evan Roberts, as though in a trance; “they refuse to listen I don’t know what will become of them.” The Rev. W. O. Evans asked, “May we not give thanks for those who have been saved?” “No,” was the sternly authoritative reply. “He will not receive any thanks. He will receive nothing. He has locked Heaven, as it were, I have seen meetings stopped in this way before.” A voice from the congregation: “We shall see you tomorrow night.” Mr Roberts: See me? Some people will see God and feel His hand before tomorrow night. Hasten out, friends, or pray for pardon. A hymn was started. “No! No! There must be no singing,” again commanded the evangelist. Soon, however, the black cloud lifted. Then, smiling he said, “Perhaps we shall sing just bow. It’s getting clearer.” Then, after a pause, “Now I tell you what we can do before we go to rest. We can commit these five to the care of God. We shall sing now and thank God for that.” After a hymn had been sung a number of additional converts were announced. At Mr Roberts’s suggestion the congregation sang “Lead, Kindly Light” in English, and afterwards repeated it three times, first in Welsh and then in English. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “That’s it” said the evangelist; “that will be ringing in somebody’s ears tomorrow.” Slowly, one after another, the converts were still yielding and at half-past ten o’clock the great chorus of thanksgiving was being sustained without any sign of fatigue or abatement. The evening’s converts numbered about seventy.

From, 'The Western Mail,' 2nd April 1905.