Bethania Welsh Baptist Chapel - Maesteg (1905)

Although it is easier to accommodate visitors in Maesteg than it was in the villages of the mining valleys, the capacity of the old town of Llwyni in that direction was fully taxed by the influx of strangers from various towns and different countries during today, for although some who had been here Sunday left this morning, the arrivals were more numerous than the departures. The afternoon meeting, held in Zoar Chapel, Maesteg, was a wonderful gathering. It was known that Mr Evan Roberts would not be present. His absence had been formally announced at the morning service, and yet a crowded congregation assembled in the chapel before the time fixed for opening. Miss Annie Davies (Maesteg) and Miss Mary Davies (Gorseinon) attended and took part in the proceedings, but took their places in the body of the chapel. Miss Mary Davies began delivering a Welsh address on the love of Christ and its application to the affairs of daily life, when a young man in the gallery, holding his hymn book in his hand, sang “Throw out the lifeline,” and persisted in singing all the verses, notwithstanding the young lady’s plucky attempt to go on with the address, and when the solo was concluded an Englishman, who said he was connected with a mission in London, got up in the big seat and declared that he had a message which he must deliver to the congregation. He said that all eyes were now turned upon Wales, and he hoped the Welsh people, who were now so mightily blessed by the outpouring of the Spirit, would live consistent lives. Suddenly there was an outburst of Welsh hymn singing and simultaneous prayer, but the Londoner waited for another opening and started off again with thanksgiving for the privilege of being present. He had a message – here he was interrupted by further hymn singing and Welsh prayer. “Wrth gofio’i ridd fanau’n yr ardd” (“Who can recall His wondrous groans”) was struck up, and by-and-bye Miss Annie Davies began singing “Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,” but she broke off, and spoke of the power of the “Love like mighty torrents,” and as she passionately described the “love” she broke down completely. The congregation sang “Wedi teimlo awel a Galfaria fryn” The Londoner already referred to asked for prayers for London, and he was again interrupted by young women who carried out his wishes by praying in Welsh for London, Manchester, and “all the kingdoms of the earth” (“holl deyrnasoedd y ddaear”). In the evening the service was held in Bethania Chapel, where an enormous congregation assembled long before six o’clock, and the sight in itself was an impressive one. The chapel is a large one, capable of accommodating close upon 1,500 people, and as the aisles, lobby, big pew; rostrum, and the rooms behind the platform were fully occupied before the doors were closed, there was a magnificent audience to face from the platform. After the singing of hymns, the pastor (the Rev. Yorwerth Jones) delivered an address, which was received with a loud chorus of “Amens,” and several prayers in Welsh and English followed. One petitioner asked God to prevent the introduction of “strange fires“ into the service; another asked for the saving of the “old champions” of Maesteg, just as some of them at the top of the valley had already been saved; and a third asked the Lord to go to his house before his father went to work that night and to save him. After a brief Welsh address by the Salvationist who had taken part in the afternoon meeting, and another powerful rendering of “ O anfon Di yr Ysbryd Glan” (“Send down the Holy Spirit, Lord”) by the congregation, a young lady sang very sweetly, “Coming home,” in the refrain of which the congregation heartily joined. Someone in the body of the chapel gave out the hymn— “O na allwn, garu’r Iesu Yn fwy ffyddlawn a’i wasnaethu“ (I would serve Jesus better still. Servo Him with all my strength and will”), and there was some more fine singing. Mr Evan Roberts, Miss Annie Davies, and Miss Mary Davies arrived before seven o’clock, but the evangelist did not rise to speak for some time. A wonderful scene was witnessed when “Dyma gariad fel y moroedd” (”Here’s a Love like mighty torrents”) was struck up by the congregation. The people rose and sang with extraordinary spirit and power the great love song of the revival, repeating three times in every rendering the line, “Dyma gariad na’d an anghof” (“Love that will not be forgotten“). Then when the singing ceased Miss Annie Davies now in the neighbourhood of her old home, stepped forward and sang the hymn with thrilling effect. She delivered a brief address, urging all there that night to accept salvation, and the pertinent speech, delivered with the simplicity which, marks the sayings of this young lady, so aroused the congregation that a scene which beggars description followed. Scores were speaking, shouting, gesticulating, praying, and testifying, and then all the voices were merged in a triumphant rendering of “Ar Ei ben bo’r goron” (“Crown the Lord, my Saviour”). A new verse, interpolated by the pastor of Bethania— “Rho dy galon iddo, Byth am gofio llwoh y llawr” (“Give him thy heart thy self, He hath loved man who is but dust”)— was sung with fervour, and even when Evan Roberts rose to speak his speech was preceded with more prayers, one young man in the front of the gallery declaring that he, although the worst in that valley, wanted to see Christ even more than in coming to that meeting he had desired to see Evan Roberts. Another declared in prayer that his heart was full to overflowing, and he prayed that the glorious feeling which he had experienced should be planted in other hearts. Mr Evan Roberts, Bible in hand, resumed his seat, and from, the gallery came another prayer— ”Lord, save my wife, and enable us to bring up our children in Thy fear. They have not in the past had a good example set them by me, but in Thy strength let us enter upon the path set before us.” The hymn “Maddeuant!” “(Forgiveness”) was given out by another man in the gallery, and the congregation was promptly on its feet, singing “Tyred ato, bechadur, yn awr” (“Oh, come to Him, sinner, come now”). Then, while a powerful prayer was being offered up, a young lady sang very tenderly, and at the conclusion of the prayer another young lady pathetically sang “Mae’n disgwyl. am danat yn awr” (“He is waiting for thee just now”), and the congregation was once more in full chorus. However, there was by this time apparently a lack of warmth in the meeting, as if the people were waiting for the address of the evangelist. Others went on speaking? and singing, when Mr Roberts rose and said “The meeting is going down now. The change came in an instant. Why? Oh, it was only a sentence that was uttered, and the Spirit fled. I would be perfectly willing to sit down, and say nothing, for God is here!” (Voices “Diolch Iddo.”) “One of you must ask God’s pardon. He became eloquent (‘doniol’) before God. We should be as simple as children in prayer, especially those who had had the Spirit. Watch. If it was necessary to watch before, it is more necessary now. Satan would like to see someone who is filled with the Spirit go a little too far. Therefore, watch, and remember that God is holy. There is someone here now who is moved to recite a verse.” And before the words were out of the evangelist’s lips a young lady on the gallery recited “Ceisiwch yr Arglwydd” (“Seek ye the Lord”). Someone struck up “Fy ngl nrtref sydd ‘nawr yn y Nef,” and the roused congregation again sang, repeating the refrain forty or fifty times, dwelling lovingly, so that long before they had concluded it the evangelist was laughing joyously, and so enthusiastic had scores in the audience become that there were numberless self-constituted conductors among them, beating time and clapping hands. There was a moment’s pause, and off went the same music with the English words, “In the sweet by-and-bye we shall meet on that beautiful shore.” One man gave thanks for having been given a “little heaven on earth” in the meeting. He prayer especially for gamblers, of whom, he said, he had been one of the chief in the valley. A whispered consultation took place between Mr Evan Roberts and the Rev. Yorwerth Jones, after which the pastor of Bethania asked for silent prayer for the salvation of souls in that meeting, and proceeded to test the meeting for converts. Some rose to their feet, some raised their hands, and Mr Jones continued the appeal, remarking that Mr Roberts had told him that they were going to have a great “haul” that night. From gallery,  floor, and rostrum, simultaneously and alternately, came responses from converts.

From, 'The Western Mail', 13th February 1905.

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