Assembly Free Hall, Edinburgh - D L Moody (1873)

The following is from the "Edinburgh Daily Review."

It is now three weeks since Messrs Moody and Sankey, of Chicago, began a series of very interesting and very remarkable religious services in Edinburgh. As these services are now attracting a great amount of attention, and form one of the most prominent subjects of conversation in the city,


may not be unwelcome to our readers...

Mr Moody is accompanied by his friend and coadjutor, Mr Sankey, a man of like spirit with himself, and also possessed of great musical powers, and a magnificent baritone voice, all of which he has assiduously cultivated, and consecrated to the service of Christ. 

Before the arrival of these gentlemen in Edinburgh, a considerable amount of information had been diffused in the community respecting their wonderfully successful labours in the northeast of England, especially in Newcastle-on-Tyne. A prayer meeting was also started in anticipation of their visit, with an attendance varying from seventy to a hundred and sixty. By these means, a spirit of prayerfulness, of expectation, and desire was stirred up in many.

Messrs Moody and Sankey arrived in Edinburgh on Saturday, November 22, and the first of the religious services was held every corner, but the lobbies, stairs, and entrance, all were crowded, and


who were unable to obtain admission. On the weekdays following the evening service was held in Barclay Free Church when every foot of standing room in the large edifice was nightly occupied by eager and attentive crowds. There must have been upwards of two thousand persons present every night. On the evening of Sabbath week these special services were held in three different churches- the Barclay church (Rev. J. H. Wilson's), beginning at six o'clock; Viewforth church (Rev. J. Morgan's). beginning at seven o'clock; and Fountainbridge church, beginning at eight o'clock. Long before the time appointed all three were filled to overflowing, and multitudes had to go away who could not obtain admission. During last week the meetings have been held in Broughton Place United Presbyterian Church (Rev Dr Thomson's), and both the interest and the numbers seeking admission continue to increase.

But it is not the large audiences attracted to the meetings that form the most striking characteristics of the movement. Rather it is


made on the minds of those who are present by the truths to which they listen. To this all the parts of the service conduce. The palms and hymns sung by the congregation, and the beautiful solos sung by Mr Sankey, with touching pathos and power - sung not only with the voice, but from the heart, and with such careful articulation that every syllable is distinctly heard in every part of the largest hall or church - have a very important place and a very important power in the service, and several instances have come to light in which the truth sung by Mr Sankey has been the means of winning souls for Christ. The reading of some passages of Scripture, too, and the short, earnest, direct and heartfelt prayers arrest and impress the audience. 

But the part of the service, toward which all the others tend and in which the power culminates, is the address by Mr Moody, in which, in simple, vigorous and telling language he holds up before men the truth, as it is in Jesus and makes most earnest and powerful appeals to, heart and conscience. Mr Moody is strikingly free from all pretence and parade; he speaks as one who thoroughly believes what he says and who is in downright earnest in delivering his message. His descriptions are characterised by remarkable vividness and graphic power. He has a great wealth of illustration and his illustrations are always apposite, bringing out into the clearest light the memories of many. There is no extravagance. But the effect of the services is seen in the manifest impression produced on the audience generally, in the anxious inquirers (varying in number from about forty to upwards of seventy, as on Friday last) who remain behind for spiritual conversation and prayer after every meeting and also in the hundreds of persons, in all grades of the social scale, scattered through Edinburgh and neighbourhood, who are more or less awakened to realise the importance of eternal things, are burdened with a sense of sin, and longing to obtain salvation. Not a few also profess to have been brought out of darkness into marvellous light, to have been made partakers of a new life of faith in Jesus Christ, and to be going on their way rejoicing.

A very remarkable and a most important part of the religious movement which has thus begun is


Every weekday, at twelve o'clock a meeting is held for prayer, praise and speaking about the work or the truth of the Lord. The wonderful interest that has been manifested in this meeting is shown by two things. It is shown, first, by the number of requests for prayer which are sent in by persons seeking a blessing for themselves or others. Generally, more than a hundred such requests are handed in at every meeting, representing the burdens, the cares, the longings of many a heart. And not unfrequently there are requests for thanksgiving and praise for former prayers answered and blessings bestowed.

The second thing that shows the unwonted interest called forth by these meetings is, the very large attendance at them. On the day on which the first meeting was held, more than 500 persons were present. The attendance steadily increased, till at the end of the first week, the Queen-street Hall was found too small, For a time there was some difficulty as to fixing on a suitable place. Rev A. Whyte, of Free St. George's, being applied to, kindly offered his church for the prayer meeting. Ultimately, on account of its central situation, it was resolved to hold the meeting in the Free Church Assembly Hall. The attendance there has been very large- usually upwards of a thousand daily; and it seems as if, before long, even the Assembly Hall shall be found too small.

The first half of the hour is employed with singing part of a psalm or hymn; reading the requests for prayer; prayer and a few remarks by Mr Moody on some passage of Scripture. During the second half, the meeting is open -any person present being at liberty to engage in prayer, read a short passage of Scripture, make a statement about the work of God, or request the singing of any particular psalm or hymn. This meeting is felt to be of the most delightful and refreshing character; and, when one o'clock strikes, everyone is surprised, and can scarcely believe that the hour is ended.

Many of the ministers and earnest laymen in Edinburgh and Leith, of the various evangelical denominations, gladly welcomed the American friends on their arrival in the city, and heartily through themselves into the work. Others who, at first, had difficulties and stood somewhat aloof, are finding the difficulties melting away by personal contact with the work, and are cordially identifying themselves with it. It is truly delightful to witness the


that prevail among all engaged in the movement. Denominational differences are for the time lost sight of, and oneness in Christ is realised and rejoiced in. It seems as if a winter of wonderful blessings were lying before Edinburgh and Leith.

Since the preceding was written, the work has been going on with increasing power. The interest is manifestly both widening and deepening. So great has the attendance at the noon prayer meeting become that the Free Church Assembly Hall is now daily filled in every part, a good many persons 

Being unable to obtain seats. At the evening service both the Free Church Assembly Hall and the Tolbooth Parish Church (Assembly Hall) are crowded every night; the number of inquirers who remain for spiritual conversation and prayer is steadily increasing and never a night passes without some professing to have found peace in believing.

Two new features of the movement are to be introduced next week. The one is afternoon Bible meetings. These meetings have been very specially appreciated in Newcastle and elsewhere. Two of them are to be held in Free St George’s church next week. A new feature is an all-day meeting, which is to be held in the Free Church Assembly Hall on Wednesday, beginning at 10:00 o'clock. The meeting extends over six consecutive hours, the subject being changed each hour. The first speaker on each subject is allowed 15 minutes. The other speakers are restricted to five minutes each. The proceedings are agreeably and profitably varied by frequent singing, led by Mr Sankey and by prayer.

"The Christian", December 18th, 1873.

While the two honoured servants of God from America are concentrating their efforts in Leith, the work in Edinburgh was being carried on and extended, evangelistic meetings were held in the Free Assembly Hall on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, presided over by the Reverend J H Wilson of Barclay Free Church and addressed by ministers and laymen of different denominations. The attendance at these meetings was not crowded, but large, and of all classes, the after-meetings in the inquiry room being very helpful to many in spiritual distress. The reports of these meetings made by Mr Wilson at the noon prayer meetings were very gratifying, showing the Lord was dealing graciously with rich and poor, young and old, the careless the earnest, the churchless infidel and the office bearer in the House of God.


The third meeting for young men was held in the Free Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening, and as usual was crowded in every part. The young men’s meetings form a very striking feature of this movement and perhaps no class of the community has received a greater blessing. The young men have often been prayed for at the noon prayer meeting and the requests for prayer which are daily sent in show a special anxiety among the people for their conversion. This is the most hopeful sign of future blessing, seeing that the young men now brought under the influence of the truth will soon be centres of great influence in both the church and the world. At the close of Mr Moody's address, a great number remained to speak with him and with the workers around him, and all over the large hall, there were little groups in earnest conversation over the peace that God had made with men through the Blood of his dear son. It is very remarkable that in these inquiry meetings a number of young men of are found who have been entirely neglecting the church and her ordinances and trying to live on the moral husks of infidelity. When the history of this movement comes to be written, this would come out as a striking fact. And these young men do not come to the inquiry room in the sceptics' pride and with a parade of intellectual difficulties, but they come because they are miserable and because they feel that there is nothing in scepticism to sustain the realities of human life. Some of them, after being reminded of the fact that moral depravity blinds the intellect and perverts the judgement, and that only the pure in heart can see God and that Christ died for those who are blind, poor, miserable, and wretched, bowed their spirits and accepted the Saviour and found the longing for peace in simple believing.


There were four special meetings held in Edinburgh on Sunday. At 9:00 o'clock in the morning, Mr Moody preached to a crowded audience in the Free Assembly Hall on the reading of the scriptures. The use of the Word of God and the fullness with which it is expanded is another of the thoroughly healthy features of this work of grace. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is the characteristic of the preaching that God is so marvellously blessing. There is no exciting description, no undue running on a feeling and no belief in the power of mere noise; The one weapon is,” the Word of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Mr Moody's lecture on reading the Bible was most refreshing and those who enjoyed it went away under a new impulse to the careful and prayerful, and constant study of the book of life.

In the evening a meeting for women only was held in the Free Assembly Hall and was addressed by Dr Bonar and the Rev Mr Fraser, of Free St Bernard's. Dr Bonar in reporting the meeting at the noon hour of prayer said that in all his life he never preached to such an audience. Every part of the large building was crowded and under the simple preaching of the blessed gospel, the vast multitude was bowed and without any excitement, the careless were melted to tears of repentance and the children of God to tears of joy. A great many remained after the meeting for conversation, all of them in the earnestness of true distress seeking to press into the Kingdom of God's dear Son.

At the same hour, a meeting open to all was held at the Tolbooth Parish Church (Assembly Hall). There was here also an overflowing audience, a number of earnest souls in the inquiry room and the whole service was gladdened by the presence of the Spirit of God.


The most interesting meeting on Sunday evening was held in the Corn Exchange. This is the largest place in Edinburgh, being capable of holding, without seats, between five and six thousand people. Six thousand tickets were issued to the working men of Edinburgh, none but men being admitted, and nearly that number thronged the vast building on Sunday evening, content to stand for more than two hours to wait for and listen to the preaching of the simple gospel. Mr Moody, after preaching twice in Leith, between six and eight o'clock, came up to Edinburgh at half-past eight and addressed this great crowd. The Rev Mr Wilson and the Rev J Morgan also delivered short addresses, while the Jubilee Singers offered their services to Mr Moody, and sang some of the sweet songs of redeeming love. At first, the appearance of these singers at evangelistic meetings was thought too bold a step, but when it became known that they are all living believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the voice of disapproval was at once hushed, and their help gladly accepted in the ministry in this great work. After Mr Moody had concluded, there being no accommodation for a second meeting in the Corn Exchange, he asked those
who wished to hear further of salvation if they would adjourn to the Free Assembly Hall; and, before leaving, he asked those who were favourable to another large meeting on Monday evening to hold up their hands. A perfect sea of hands was held up, and arrangements for the meeting were at once proceeded with. 

Mr Moody and those with him, on reaching the Assembly Hall, found that nearly seven hundred men had come up from the Corn Exchange, desiring to hear further of Christ. It was impossible to speak to each in conversation, and, with the view of considering the propriety of giving a short special address to the anxious, he asked those who were really in earnest, and truly desiring to know Christ, to stand up; and nearly the whole of them stood up at once, in token of their thirst for the water of life. There were ministers and laymen at the time around Mr Moody who had seen all the great revival movements of the last forty years, and it was the testimony of everyone present that they had never seen such a solemn sight as the one before them. After saying a few words to them, Mr Moody asked them to go home and to come back on Monday evening to the meeting for young converts and anxious souls. Many of them went away, but not a few lingered behind, willing to speak with anyone who would sympathise with their troubled heart and the groping heavenward of a soul in the dark.

The Sunday of which we write will be a memorable one in the history of the religious life of Edinburgh, and yet God's people though thrilled with amazement are expecting greater things in the days to come. "Prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Edinburgh, Dec. 31, 1873,


As usual, on Monday evening there was a union prayer meeting in the Tolbooth Parish Church, largely attended and very happy with a sense of the Master's presence. At the same hour a meeting for the converts brought into the kingdom during the last five weeks, and for those in spiritual distress and anxiety, was held in the Free Assembly Hall. The attendance of converts and those anxious was much larger than it has ever been before; and though the Great Searcher of hearts alone fully knows the results, there was abundant evidence in the meeting of the dead getting life, and the lost coming home.

The meeting at half-past eight in the Corn Exchange was attended by upwards of three thousand of the poorer classes. Mr Moody being engaged with the converts in the early part of the evening, the meeting was conducted by several clergymen and laymen of different denominations. 

Col. Davidson mentioned a very striking incident about a young lady. She was so much concerned about her soul one night that she could not sleep, and so she got up and entered in her diary her resolution to close with Christ's offer that day twelvemonth, She got into bed again, but could not rest, So rising a second time she entered in the diary that she would close with Christ that day month. But this did not satisfy her conscience, and after she had got into bed she rose a third time and entered in the diary that she would close with Christ that day week. This satisfied her, and she went to bed and slept. In the morning when she rose the impression was gone.

She went to a ball at night, caught cold and was next day in a fever. She continued till the middle of the following week in a delirium when reason returning, she exclaimed, "I am a week too late--I am lost!" and passed away. The impression produced by this incident was deepened by Mr Sankey immediately singing Tennyson's "Too late! too late!" This made a most profound impression on the vast audience and prepared the hearts of hundreds of rough, careless men for the faithful and tender appeals of Mr Moody that they should at once close with Christ and enter into that kingdom where perfect love casteth out fear, and where God's people dwell in everlasting safety. These meetings in the Corn Exchange have reached a class to a great extent beyond the influence of the pulpit, and the city missionary, as well as the parochial pastor, will doubtless, in many a poor man's home in the Grassmarket and Cowgate, find a theme of interest, and a fresh starting-point for the old, old story, in these wonderful meetings of the American brethren.

The noon prayer meetings present a more wonderful sight than ever. To say they are crowded does not express half the interest. One must be a witness and a daily witness for himself to fully understand the spirit of prayer and trust and hope, and gladness that pervades the people who come together. On Saturday the crowd was so great, that both the Free Assembly Hall and Tolbooth Parish Church were crowded. Mr Moody and the Jubilee Singers led the meeting in the Free Assembly Hall, while Mr Sankey and the Rev. G. Wilson conducted the meeting in the Tolbooth Parish Church. Such a spectacle was never before witnessed in the history of Christian life in this city. Dr Charles Brown, one of the oldest and most highly respected ministers in Edinburgh, said at the noon prayer meeting on Monday, that he had watched closely all the religious movements of the last forty years, and that he had never seen anything that in extent and depth of interest approached to the present movement. He had often prayed for such a blessing, and always longed for it; and though his prayer had remained unanswered for many years, he was so enriched with gladness at the sights around him that he felt as if he could say with Simeon, "Now, Lord, lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which Thou has prepared the face of all people."

"The Christian", January 8th, 1874.

Additional Information

This is now called the Assembly Hall

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