Bingley Hall, Birmingham - D L Moody (1875)

Following the Sheffield mission, Mr Moody held a two weeks series of meetings in Birmingham. The Town Hall, Carr’s Lane Chapel, and Bingley Hall were found none too large for the audiences which attended. During the first eight days of their stay in that city the total attendance at the three halls was estimated at one hundred and six thousand. Dr R. W. Dale was at first inclined to look with disfavour on the movement and stood aloof. As the interest continued, however, he became more impressed and attended the meetings regularly.  "Of Mr Moody’s own power,” he said, “ I find it difficult to speak. It is so real and yet so unlike the power of ordinary preachers, that I hardly know how to analyse it. Its reality is indisputable. Any man who can interest and impress an audience of from three to six thousand people for half an hour in the morning and for three-quarters of an hour in the afternoon, and who can interest a third audience of thirteen or fifteen thousand people for three-quarters of an hour again in the evening, must have power of some kind. Of course, some people listened without caring much for what he said, but though I generally sat in a position which enabled me to see the kind of impression he produced, I rarely saw many faces which did not indicate the most active and earnest interest. The people were of all sorts, old and young, rich and poor, tradesmen, manufacturers, and merchants, young ladies who had just left school, cultivated women, and rough boys who knew more about dogs and pigeons than about books. For a time I could not understand it — I am not sure that I understand it now. At the first meeting, Mr Moody’s address was simple, direct, kindly, and hopeful; it had a touch of humour and a touch of pathos; it was lit up with a story or two that filled most eyes with tears, but there seemed nothing in it very remarkable. Yet it told. A prayer meeting with an address at eight o’clock on a damp, cold January morning was hardly the kind of thing — let me say it frankly — that I should generally regard as attractive, but I enjoyed it heartily; it seemed one of the happiest meetings I had ever attended; there was warmth and there was sunlight in it. At the evening meeting, the same day, at Bingley Hall, I was still unable to make out how it was that he had done so much in other parts of the kingdom. I listened with interest, and I was again conscious of a certain warmth and brightness that made the service very pleasant, but I could not see that there was much to impress those who were careless about religious duty. The next morning, at the prayer meeting, the address was more incisive and striking, and at the evening service I began to see that the stranger had a faculty for making the elementary truths of the Gospel intensely clear and vivid. But it still seemed most remarkable that he should have done so much, and on Tuesday I told Mr Moody that the work was most plainly of God, for I could see no real relation between him and what he had done. He laughed cheerily and said he should be very sorry if it were otherwise. Scores of us could preach as effectively as Mr Moody, I felt, and might therefore, with God’s good help, be equally successful. In the course of a day or two, however, my mistake was corrected. His preaching had all the effect of Luther’s; he exulted in the free grace of God. His joy was contagious. Men leaped out of darkness into light and lived a Christian life afterward.” Dr Dale had a profound respect for Mr Moody, and considered that he had a right to preach the Gospel, “because he could never speak of a lost soul without tears in his eyes.”

"The Life of Dwight L Moody," by W R Moody, pages 196-8.


To convey to the mind of the reader the sight which presents itself on entering Bingley Hall (the place of evening meeting) is impossible. Sloping down from the galleries which run round the building, other galleries have been erected, and the whole building, from the speaker's platform, looks like one vast amphitheatre. The crimson cloth which drapes the galleries adds to the general effect and makes the hall (said to be one of the dreariest-looking buildings in the Midland counties) look very comfortable. The immense sea of faces is singularly impressive, especially when from twelve to fifteen thousand people are listening eagerly to catch the words that fall from the speaker's lips.

The question may be asked, What effect is this movement having upon the people in general? I reply, good every way. The stirring addresses given by Mr Moody to Christians from the very first morning are bearing fruit. They are beginning to look about and realize that thousands around them are living without Christ. Many Christians have spoken to me of the fresh energy with which they have been stimulated through attending the meetings. As for those who nightly throng Bingley Hall, the best test of the work I can give is, that whereas at first the after-meetings were held in a neighbouring church, the anxious ones have now become so numerous that they are obliged to remain in the hall, while earnest Christian workers, with Bible in hand, pass from one to another, and open to inquirers the way of life.

All this proves to us the great power of God, and what he can do by two men who give themselves wholly up to him. The work "is marvellous in our eyes," but it is not less marvellous that their physical strength does not give way under their unceasing labours. While Mr Sankey is greatly gifted with power to use his voice in singing the Gospel, Mr Moody has a way of marvellously picturing, in the most vivid manner, Bible truths. From the humorous, he can come down to the pathetic, and so move his hearers to tears, and withal there is a "holy boldness" which is seldom to be met with in the preachers of the present day. May the Lord bless abundantly the efforts of these men, who have produced such an unusual and powerful effect upon Birmingham!

The Morning News says: "Never before in the history of Birmingham, I believe, have two men drawn such large numbers of people together as Messrs: Moody and Sankey have done, time after time, during the whole of last week and yesterday. The Town Hall, Carr's Lane Chapel, and Bingley Hall have been entirely filled at most of their meetings, uncomfortably crowded at some, and all but full at one or two others. Since commencing their labours here, they have held twenty-two services. No doubt in many cases the same persons presented themselves at the meetings again and again; but it is probable that the audiences were, for the most part, different on each occasion. At the four meetings in Carr's Lane Chapel some twelve thousand, at the six in the Town Hall about twenty-four thousand, and at the twelve in Bingley Hall at least one hundred and twenty thousand persons must have been present, making a total of one hundred and fifty-six thousand men, women, and children, to whom, during the last eight days, they have preached and sung the Gospel. Nor does the interest in the men and their work as yet know any abatement, it being likely that the services to be held this week will be as numerously attended as those of last week."

The spring tide of blessing has rolled over Birmingham and risen far above the ordinary high-water mark of years gone by. The fishermen who have learned the divine art of catching men, instead of toiling all night and taking nothing, have had the fish leaping into the Gospel net, as it were, praying to be caught. The woman, with the light of the Holy Spirit on the word, has been sweeping her house; and though there was much rubbish, and the helpers were few, yet she has left no stone unturned, no part unsearched, but has kept the one object of her search — the lost piece — in her mind until she has found it. And oh! how many more pieces of precious treasure has she found than ever she expected! Her example has become contagious; and wherever you go, you find the search for souls going on, and souls themselves feeling they are lost. Special services are being carried on in various parts of the town, at each of which souls are finding joy and peace in believing."

"The work of God in Great Britain, under Messrs. Moody and Sankey, 1873-1875: with biographical sketches," by R W Clark, 1875.

Additional Information

The building was built in 1850 and burned down in 1984. It held about 13,000.

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