Babell Welsh Calvinistic Methodists - Cwmbwria (1905)

Another change in the venue, and a change also in the character of the meetings connected with the revival, may well be noted in recording events at the gathering at Babell Chapel, Cwmbwria, to-day. In one respect the gathering was similar to the others – the congregation began coming together for the afternoon service long before mid-day. In fact, when I and several friends arrived, shortly before twelve o’clock, we found the chapel full, and the crowds still coming. Presently, not only were the aisles and lobby filled to overflowing, but the vestry was occupied to its fullest extent. Among those present were the Rev. Dr M’Caig, the principal of Spurgeon’s Pastors’ College, and a considerable number of ministers. The chapel itself has glorious associations clustering around it, and it is pleasing to record the fact that the effects of the present revival were felt here even before the story of the Loughor “fire” had been spread abroad. Among those now present was a London clergyman, a Cardiganshire J.P., a Norwich gentleman, and the “cry is still they come”, for while at Cardiff and at the various revival meetings we have had Russians, Armenians, Greeks, Norwegians, negroes from the West Indies, and gypsies, the first distinct influx of Americans that I have noticed came to Swansea. It was at Babell that the most direct departure from the general programme of hymn singing took place, for here there was decided originality in that respect. There was originality even in the use of old hymns, for they were generally so old as to be quite new to the present generation of singers and hearers. One of the first hymns sung after our arrival was - O Iesu mawr rho’th anian bar I eiddil gwan mewn anial dir, I’n nerthu drwy’r holl rwystran sy’ Ar ddyrus daith i’r Ganaan fry. Mi ganaf am rinweddan’th waed; Mi garia’r Groes, mi nofia’r don, Oud cael Dy anian dan fy mron. The Rev. Penar Griffiths announced that Mr Evan Roberts hoped to be present by a quarter-past two, and when the congregation had risen and sung “Drosoch chwi rwy’n gweddio” (“For you I am praying”), “Penar” prayed in Welsh, and the hymn “I need Thee every hour” was sung by the congregation. When one of the young ladies in the gallery pitched the singing an octave higher, “Penar” remarked that singing in these days was a matter of temperament. Those who struck a minor key should sing, “Beth sydd i mi yn y byd?” Among the “arrivals” during this part of the proceedings was the Vicar of Cockett and Mr, Hugh Edwards, the editor of “Young Wales”, and, just as another Welsh hymn was being sung by the congregation - O, galw, hwynt o’r Dwyrain, Gorellewln, Gogledd, De, I’th eglwya ddiapal, Mao digon eto o le, Mr. Evan Roberts entered the building. Glancing at the verse painted on the wall at the rear of the pulpit - “Behold I am with you; even unto the end of the world” - he adopted it as his immediate text. He declared that the “Unseen” was present at this gathering. Let them revere the Son, and pay Him all their attention. Let them ask for faith to believe this promise. If they were not “at home” there in their Father’s House, they were not at peace with the Father. If they were not at peace, let them ask for it now, and God pardoned and sang while He pardoned. The evangelist declared the presence of God to be very manifest and very near - terrible in the reality of His nearness - and, becoming deeply affected, there was a pathetic scene, which was relieved by Mr. D. C. Davies, Clydach - a student of Spurgeon’s College - striking up with “Pen Calfaria”, which was sung with great fervour by the congregation. Mr Roberts had only just resumed his remarks when the woman in the gallery before referred to began singing - Wash me in the blood of the lamb, And I shall be whiter than the snow. A man in the body of the chapel, under intense emotion, shouted “Diolch, diolch!” and the congregation took it up in the hymn, “Diolch iddo, byth am gofio ilwch y llawr”. Mr Garrett, of Whitchurch, prayed in English from the gallery, and while he was doing so a young woman sang very softly and tenderly - Hoellwyd yr aberth This over, a voice from some other part of the building called out, “Diolch am scriwad” (“Thanks for a screwing”), and while further testimonies were proceeding there was more singing, some of the impromptu exclamations interpolated with “Come to Jesus” being very apt, but they seemed to be distracting the attention of the people. The evangelist suddenly got up again and cried “Stop”. One singer persisted in singing, but Mr Evan Roberts several times again cried, “Stop, stop please.” When the singer stopped Mr Roberts declared that he had, before doing this, asked for wisdom and if they obeyed the Spirit in singing they could obey also by stopping. He had noticed that in some meetings the Spirit had been quenched by persons who got up to do certain things, and he had been told by the Spirit to tell such people to sit down. He had at one time allowed the meetings to proceed, but now he was directed to prevent the quenching of the Spirit by anybody and everybody who might get up to show themselves. He knew when anybody got up unmoved by the Spirit. They also knew it. And it was becoming necessary to teach people to walk, and to walk straight. It was absolutely necessary to pray for wisdom. It might be said he was hard in saying this, but it was the lesson of the Spirit, by Whom he was guided in the matter. Let them pray Him to take and make use of them body and soul, and they could not then be far out in what they did; and, he repeated, let them pray for wisdom. The evening meeting was held in Trinity Chapel, where the congregation had been gathering from the early hours of the afternoon. The most thrilling incident occurred about ten o’clock. A young well-dressed shop assistant tottered into the “set fawr”, embraced a minister, and asked him to pray for him. Mr Roberts came down from the pulpit, and the young man threw his arms around him. The two then went up to the pulpit, and the young fellow shouted to the congregation, “Ydi mam yma?” (“Is mother here?”) A voice from the back seats announced that the mother was present. The young man then said: “Mother, I have had to give in at last. I tried to refuse, but I was compelled.” The mother burst into prayers, and her son shouted, “Well, done mam”. Before concluding my present article I must give the readers the text of Mr Evan Roberts’s message to the students of Spurgeon’s Pastors’ College, London. Principal McCraig has been present at several of the Swansea meetings, and on Tuesday night, when he had a brief conversation with the young revivalist, Dr McCaig asked if he could have a short message to convey to the students at the Pastors’ College. Mr Evan Roberts, gripping the principal by the hand, said, “Tell them to live very near to God,” and, after a pause, added, “That’s the best life - near to God”.

From, 'The Western Mail,' 4th January 1905.

Additional Information

The chapel was demolished in 1996.

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