The Beddgelert revival began in 1817 and went on for three or four years. It was an unusually powerful revival and very widespread. In fact just looking at the Beddgelert revival on its own is a mistake - a common one. If you look at my website ukwells.org, you will find 168 places in the UK where revival occurred at that time! This shows that God was on the move in the United Kingdom and in fact there were revivals going on in the USA during the same period.
In this account of the revival I shall be reading contemporary accounts of what happened. I believe that there is more anointing on a contemporary account than me just telling the story.
Up until relatively recently salvation would come through people first being convicted of their sin, then they would see that Jesus was the answer to relieve them from the terrible pain they felt and then they asked Jesus into their hearts, with resultant joy, praise, worship etc.
The main industry here at the time was farming and mining.
There was a church in the town at the time of the revival, but there were only 40 members and there had not been any addition to their numbers for some time. The state of religion in North Wales was considered very low as they had not had a revival in a while. However, in January 1817 the presence of God fell on the small congregation and over the next few months a few were added to their number. There were also signs that the people in the town were more willing to listen to the Word of God.
There is some controversy as to where the revival began; conventional wisdom is that it began in Capel y Nant in the Lleyn peninsular, which we will visit later, but I read a compelling argument that it actually started in the Beddgelert area, namely here at the old farmhouse Hafod-y-Llan, in August 1817. (map)
The Sunday evening meeting here was full as many people came from a long way as they enjoyed meeting together. The young went out to play in the milking parlour and the rest gathered in this room. The pastor, Richard Williams, who was known as a very mediocre preacher, stood on a bench beside a large table in the kitchen, using a small table on the larger table as his pulpit. Someone present tells what happens.
‘But before quarter of an hour had passed there is here something more than fluency. The power of the world to come is poured out on the preacher and the hearers—it is serious! It is fearful! It is indescribable! Though Richard Williams is speaking, yet somehow he is not speaking; the voice is not his voice, nor the gift his gift, and neither is the sermon his sermon! The old sermon did not come out, but a completely new sermon that he had not had before, and he could not get a hold of any of it again. He was a messenger this time. SOMEONE ELSE was speaking to the conscience of the congregation, and the old preacher had lost himself in this! He said afterwards, that he was doubtful at the time whether he was preaching, or that he was listening to someone else. Everyone had been possessed by seriousness and fear. The young people and the wanton left the milk parlour taken with fear of the judgment; they thought that an angel and not a man was speaking.’
Nobody spoke as they left the meeting as they were all full of the fear of the Lord
Sometime the following week there was the usual church day meeting here in Beddgelert (map) which was normally sparsely attended, but on this occasion it was almost full. A verse was sung at the beginning of the meeting and someone writes:
‘What followed was amazing! Some crying out for mercy—some rejoicing having received deliverance—some praying—some singing—everything in confusion—no one caring—no one thinking about order! Order indeed; under such powerful influences as these! Master Order must be kept out for a time. The news of what was happening spread from house to house and valley to valley and people flocked to the church all through the day. For a time there was hardly any order at all, for if someone prayed or sang it would set everyone on fire!’
Either here or in one of the other buildings nearby, in September a young school teacher was reading from the book of John when every child began to weep and could not carry on reading. Someone came to address the girls, to tell them about the fair that was going to come to Beddgelert.
‘As he continued speaking something amazing descended upon him and the whole school. With his words something so solemn, so powerful, descended on the whole school, on young and old, so that all broke out weeping. So powerful was the influence, that the children were in dread; one little boy ran to his father, and cried, ‘Dear father, judgment day has come.’
‘Some of the old believers began leaping and rejoicing; others cried out, saying ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ All, the little children, and everyone, were weeping, and crying out; and each one that came to the chapel began weeping there.’
Capel y Nant
At the end of September various ministers came to Beddgelert on their way to the annual Calvinistic Methodist Association meeting in Pwllheli, 20 miles away. It makes sense to me that some of those ministers took the revival to the area around Pwllheli while at the Association meeting. Capel y Nant was only six miles away.
Around this time someone asked people in the church here in Capel-y-Nant (map) to pray each day for the Lord to visit them by His Spirit. Evidently, nearly everyone did this, including the children. The next summer a boy began to feel bad about playing around on the Sabbath, so after church on Sunday he would lock himself away in the gallery of the church to seek God until it was time for Sunday School in the evening. After a while he allowed a girl to join him and they prayed together, and as time went by he allowed more and more children to join them. Then all the prayers began to bear fruit, when the girl broke out in tears and then rejoiced in her salvation. Not many weeks passed before there were around 80 of all ages joining in the excitement.
‘Now, the influence of this revival had reached almost all in the valley. All labour and commerce had slowed down due to the power of the visitation. Some for days and nights on end were unable to eat or sleep, because of the depth of their conviction. Some refrained from engaging, for fear that they too would be taken with the same conviction; others took to swearing that they would keep clear of such madness. But no one was safe. On some the excitement fell in the middle of the night whilst in their beds; and on some as they were travelling, and on others in the fields. No one was safe from being attacked by this saving disease!
The revival spread around the Beddgelert area, reaching Dolwyddelan (map) early in 1819. Although only a few miles from Beddgelert it took its time to get here, but you can see from the size of this chapel, which was built as a result of the revival, the fruit was great here.
A contemporary wrote about the revival
‘It seems that no one can remember anywhere where the working of the Spirit has been more strong through the means of grace, the convictions more powerful to awaken the conscience, and prick the heart, and the outpourings of the joy of salvation more extensive, and their effects more evident and lasting.’
Many of them would have between three and six miles to go to their homes, and often they went the whole way rejoicing until the valleys and rocks echoed around them. Yes, so powerful were the workings upon them, that if you went out of your house at night, you could hear some praying, others singing and praising God, until the whole region resounded.’
Many of the tourists wondered what was going on – one man said he had never seen people weeping and laughing before. Several people testified to hearing singing in the sky and some said they listened to it for.
The revival was widespread and deep and the characteristics were the same as most revivals of the time. Just speaking about it stirs my spirit and inside I am shouting out ‘please, do it again Lord!’ We desperately need a new awakening across Wales and the whole United Kingdom.