Barnsley - Salvation Army (1878)

This is an excerpt from the first monthly report from the Salvation Army station here.

We meant Victory or Death. So we began in right good earnest on Sunday morning at ten o'clock, May 26th, having three dear brothers from Sheffield to help us. We commenced in the Market Place by singing, "We're travelling home to Heaven above, Will you go? and in a few moments hundreds came running in every direction, expecting to hear us sing without Christ, and speak without Christ: But their tears and their· great attention showed us there was a hungering and thirsting after the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The interest of the meeting was kept up for three hours. We then began again at a quarter to two, and sung to the large Gaiety Theatre, hundreds following. When we entered, to our great surprise, it was empty, but the crowd that followed soon made a good congregation. We cannot tell our dear friends the feeling that thrilled through us as we stood on the stage for the first time and seeing the crowds flock in. Gazing on their anxious faces, we wondered who was sufficient for these things. We soon saw who was, when at the close we saw three precious souls crying for mercy. When we began at a quarter to six in the Marketplace, though such a feeble band, we sang through the streets, and invited the people into the theatre, We had about 1,000 people inside. We did not have much liberty in speaking or singing, and at the prayer meeting, most of them ran out. Of course we were greatly disappointed, expecting to see many saved.

We began open-air at seven o'clock the next night and got crowds round us, most of them miners and after talking and singing we invited them into our week-night hall, the small theatre which is called, The Mechanics Hall.

It holds about eight hundred. Sister Smith and I then sang through the streets to the hall. Men, women and children ran from every direction to see two females singing through the streets by themselves. The hall was in no wise full when we entered, but the mob soon filled it. Much liberty in praying, singing and speaking. Our success began from that night. Within the fortnight, we have had 134 professed to be saved, some of them the most interesting cases I ever met with.

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', June 1878, pages 172-3. 

(Report from William Booth) I had felt some anxiety during the day respecting our infant cause here. Evangelists Rose Clapham and Jane Smith had been summoned before the magistrates for obstructing the thoroughfare. They. were young and inexperienced, and, consequently, a little nervous, but, withal, determined to stand up for the privilege of proclaiming to dying men salvation through the blood of the Lamb.

We soon learned that the Court was densely crowded. After a trial lasting over an hour, the magistrates dismissed the charge, assuring the Evangelists of his sympathy with their work, but urging upon them the selection of such an open space as could prevent any obstruction of traffic.

Our friends left the Court in triumph, processioned the town, held a larger open-air meeting than ever at night in the Market Place, and I preached to over 800 people, crammed into the old Theatre, .occupied by the Mission for weeknight meetings. The service was mighty! The truth went flashing home to the hearts of hundreds. Oh! there was a shaking among the dry bones. In the prayer meeting they fell in all diirections. Between 20 and 30 got up through the crowd to the place of healing (called the penitent-form), and there, amidst shouts and song, found salvation.

I was delighted with everything. Scores are under conviction. Some of the biggest sinners in the town have been saved, and other sinners quite as big and quite as black are on the edge of the cleansing flood. But this is only the beginning. It must go deeper and wider, and deeper still and so IT WILL. Go on, dear sisters! You have worked hard, and God has answered and blessed your work right early

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', August 1878, pages 203. 

From the Annual Conference

I had no five to help me when I went to Barnsley. I had to go all by myself. But dear old Bennett was there to meet me. He took me in a cab to the lodging he had got for me; but when we got there the landlady said, "Are you the woman that's coming to preach without Christ?" "No," I said, "I am going to speak for him." But she would not let me in and we had to hunt about till at last an old woman took me in. I felt very strange all by myself, but I got on my knees and the room was filled with heaven.

The next day I went into the theatre that I had to preach in on the Sunday and I trembled as I looked at it. I had never been in one before. Two or three brethren came over from Sheffield to help us on the Sunday; but we got no souls, and when there are no souls I'm done. But this time I felt sure of victory all the same.

On the Monday I went into the open air with my colleague, Jenny Smith, and when they saw us two little things stand there, hundreds of colliers came round us at once. After we had held our meeting, we walked off to our hall but we did not sing all the way. We sang as long as we could and then left off. The colliers came after us and God touched their hearts-one jumped over the top gallery to get to the penitent form; and talk about crying for mercy-they fairly screamed for mercy. We have had nearly 700 since we went there. As for those that have been members anywhere before, we let them go back, we don't want them. We have had drunkards by the dozen. We have got 140 members, and they can all preach better than I can.

We had £5 a week to raise for hire of buildings and other expenses, and I said to the people, "I'll starve before I go into debt " so on the first Monday morning I took the theatre proprietor his 25s. and tried to beg 5s. off him, but it was no go.

We were, indeed, in danger at first of having nothing to eat. One day we had nothing left for our tea, and we went down on our knees. A knock came to the door and a gentleman wanted to see me. He asked if I were the woman who had come to "preach without Christ? " I said, "No, sir; I have come to lead sinners to Jesus." He said he had felt led to bring us some help, and he gave me a basket full of tea and sugar, and then he went off again like steam.

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', September 1878, pages 229-30.

It is with heartfelt gratitude to my Heavenly Father, that I sit down to write of His glorious dealings with us these past few weeks. More than once on a Friday night, the mighty influence of the Holy Spirit has come down upon us so that some have been laid speechless, being filled with God; others, at the same time, groaning after full salvation, until we have had to cry with one accord. How dreadful is this place. This is none other than the House of God and this is the Gate of Heaven. Our open-air meetings have increased in number and power and we have had to commence prayer meetings in cottages at the four corners of the Town. We are holding 22 meetings weekly, and glory to God, sinners are being converted nearly every night. Some are wonderful victories over the devil.

From, 'The Salvationist', June 1879, page 164.

We are having good times here and big sinners are trembling under the power of God and coming to Him for salvation. This last fortnight 37 have left the service of sin and the Devil and are now fighting for God and the Salvation Army, and this is making the Devil feel very cross indeed for he is roaring out like a lion at us and more especially at our recruits.

Our Holiness meetings are grand times and I am rejoiced to be able to say that the 45th Corps of the Salvation Army are beginning to thirst after this holiness of heart.

From, 'The War Cry', August 1880.

Additional Information

I do not know where the Gaity Theatre or the Mechanics Hall were.

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