Clynnog-fawr (1779-1813)

1779 Capel Uchaf, Clynog, Caernarfonshire. ‘A similar revival [to the one in about 1765] was had again in about 1779. It started in prayer meeting held in the chapel house. On this occasion such influences descended on those who were present that they will never forget it. The following Sabbath Richard Dafydd of Lleyn was preaching there. This man, as referred to before, was not possessed with many ministerial gifts or abilities, though he was occasionally crowned with uncommon unction. Thus he was this time. He was clothed with power from on high. The old man was under such heavenly influences, that his words were like fiery sparks descending upon the congregation, so that they could not be withstood. There was a terrible torrential might in the ministry, and under its strength many in fear and terror were crying for their lives. 15 came to seek succour and church membership in the first meeting held after, and a large number afterwards for some time. Because of the above circumstance Richard Dafydd was called the Rowlands of Clynog, suggesting that, at the time, he preached more like Rowlands of Llangeitho, than a little old exhorter of Lleyn.’ [*MC ii. 162; HMA i. 23]

Clynog and Brynengan. Robert Jones, Rhoslan in a letter to his son Daniel, in Liverpool, dated March 12, 1794 writes: ‘We have had two uncommon Monthly Societies—one in Caernarfon and the other in Brynengan. Coming home from Caernarfon I was with John Roberts [Llangwm] keeping a Society in Clynog, where I saw in particular the mark of the hand of the Lord,—not less than 29 that night had come to the Society all at once. I do not know how many are there before this, as I have heard that the work goes on growing daily. The day of fasting the fire broke out in Pentreuchaf. I was there, and in the surrounding area on the following Sunday; you would have been amazed at the heavenly arrows flying among the congregation, and newly wounding a host of people that day, and the work advances more and more in those parts. The wonder of the fire was in the Brynengan Monthly Meeting, between the Clynog recruits and the young soldiers of Pentreuchaf, so that the devil was almost hopping mad with rage: there has never been more signs of the success of the gospel in our land... ROBERT JONES. March 12, 1794. N.B. Revivals have broken out in various places in Anglesey.’ [see DCC pp.190-1; also Trafodion Cymdeithas Hanes Sir Caernarfon, 13, p.47]

1812 Capel Uchaf, Clynog, Caernarfonshire. ‘The Lord visited this region shortly after the building of the chapel this last time [in 1811], in very wonderful way, and to a very extensive degree. This was about the year 1812. This revival began in a very strange and unobserved way. The Sabbath school, by this time, had begun to win a place in the affections of the people, particularly the young people, who now used to repeat Bible verses publicly in the congregation. At that time, there was a novelty to the custom, and the effective way some repeated the verses filled the hearers breasts with lively and stirring feelings. So it was in Clynog. There was here a young girl who frequently used to break out shouting in the meetings, but very weakly. She also used to repeat verses publicly with her friend. One time when she was doing this, as she said the verses, the words had an evident deep effect on the other young girl, so that she also, was totally overcome, and broke out shouting. Now, the two frequently broke out shouting in the means of grace, but only these two. It was announced that Robert Dafydd, Brynengan, and William Roberts, Clynog, would be preaching together there at some particular time. The time came. William Roberts preached first from Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” But before he finished preaching, an influence so powerful descended on the people, that the greater part began to shout out, others to weep, and all taken by surprise. This time is never forgotten by those who saw it. The old patriarch Robert Dafydd was not given chance to put a word in. He stood in the pulpit amazed, scratching his head and messing his hair with his hands, after his manner;—he gave signs that his vessel was also full and that he was ready to break out shouting with all his might. It was generally felt that God was in the place! The men were as if they had been taken with a summons from the throne of heaven. Fear and anxiety for their cause with God descended upon them, such as they had never known before. The heart had been pricked,—the understanding awakened,—and the conscience felt the finger of God stirring it. It is easy for men to hesitate concerning the nature of the dispensation as they read the account, but no dog was able to bark at the time. All who were present felt too weepy [?] to argue about it, as they were totally convinced, like Jacob concerning Bethel, that “God is in this place!”

This revival again brought powerful effects to the cause, by adding greatly to the disciples, and by casting down old practices in the region, which had held up for ages, and those that the inhabitants, could not in any way, voluntarily lay down. About 100 were added to the number of members at this time, and there were now only a few houses in the neighbourhood without the Lord’s altar. [MC ii. 164; HMA i. 30-1]

1813 Ty Mawr, Lleyn, and other places:

Letter from R-----t J----s, T------n, September 15, 1813.

The Lord has done something wonderful in our country in less than a year, there have been added to the church, between the two chapels of Clynog, over 130.—and in Llanllyfni about 90.—between Pen y graig and Ty Mawr, about 100, and as many in other places in the country. The Sabbath schools abound with scholars, and schoolmasters, many of which are diligent and faithful.’ [Robert Jones, Rhoslan (Ty Bwlcyn at the time), letter 15/9/1813 in Trysorfa ii, pp.520-1, cf. LTC iii. 488]

‘1813 . . . There was great success to the work this year in our land; many were added to the Churches in various districts, particularly Llanllyfni, Clynog, Penygraig, Tymawr, Llanengan, Garn, Pwllheli, &c. About 30 were added to us in Penymount, and till now they are still keeping at it. December 25th, 1813.’ [Jones, Cofiant Michael Roberts, p.26]

‘There was a young man’ he says, ‘under twenty years of age, called Richard Hughes, a cobbler by calling, who was faithful unto death, which took place in Pwllheli some years ago, united to the religious cause, and very zealous for the school. He lived at Frondeg, with Evan Griffith, and Ellin his wife; and he took up the task when the old man was failing. There were no believers, apart from himself, who came to the school – he himself began and ended the school, and all the old believers stood at a distance. He had persuaded a few of the irreligious men who were able to read a little to become teachers; but not so much as one of them made a profession of religion except he himself! He began to keep teachers’ meetings with them. Having dealt with the circumstantial things concerning school, he would shortly begin to turn the conversation around to what they had read and the sermons they had listened to, so that their hearts burned within them, and the Spirit of the Lord worked together; and it was soon understood that there had been a great change in their manner of hearing and behaviour. The teachers’ meeting soon came to be thought of as a sort of private experience meeting, and for a long while afterwards they were considered as a sort of first step to religious profession; and no one of immoral life was suffered to be a teacher, and a member of these meetings. Up to this time there was nothing evident to be seen, only more of a spirit of hearing, and a greater earnestness in the appearance of the people: no one had newly sought for a place in the church.

Thus were things for some time; but on a certain Sabbath at two o’clock, Mr Richard Williams, Brynengan, was preaching, and such a powerful influence fell, that the whole congregation melted: strong men as if they had let themselves go, sighing and weeping, though there was no breaking out rejoicing; and indeed, they could not, because they were under Sinai, in sight of the smoke and fire. Never was there more proof of the ‘excellency of the power of God’ [text?] and not of the instrument than on this occasion. There was nothing in the talents of the preacher at that time to draw attention, though he was a faithful, useful, godly man according to his attainments; yet he was rather despised. But id men despised the meanness of the instrument, not so his great Master; and so it appeared on that occasion in an especial manner, that his mission was known by he himself [?]. The next week a large congregation came to seek a place in Zion, and the majority of them men of age. The fellowship would be held at eleven o’clock in the morning on a day in the middle of the week, and not often would any be absent, though many of them came from miles distant.

Soon afterwards great rejoicing broke out, which continued for many months; and the fellowship increased each week. Whole evenings were spent in the chapel, and along the roads, rejoicing, singing hymns, and indeed occasionally a sister would fair leap like the lame man at the gate of the temple after he was healed. When some of the congregation would leave, at the head of a path or at a crossroads prayer meetings would be held – the first at Rhyd-y-cynwr, another at Sarn-fellteyrn, and one or two others before the furthest ones left on their way to Tre-faesydd; and others in the same manner on the crossroad, towards Bryncroes, y Rhiw, and Rhoshirwaun.

Sometimes the preacher would scarce read his text, as it was with the late Rev. Thomas Jones of Llanpumpsaint. His companion had quiet before/preceding him; but as soon as Mr Jones arose and began to make some sweet and striking observations by way of introduction, a great shout broke out and he sat down without trying to say anything more; and there was rejoicing for hours. Sometimes it would clean continue from one meeting to another, or from one chapel to another. It be remembered that my father was once at it from Tymawr all the way home – about two miles away – and at home a long time at his supper, sometimes eating something, and sometimes rejoicing; and not stopping having gone to bed. O happy/dear days!! They were almost all adults/men of age – not children. There were only two boys among them – the writer, who at the time was nine years of age, and one other. Sometimes completely ungodly men were convicted by themselves, at their work in the middle of the fields. One ungodly youth, a servant in a farm, was breaking a load of gorse to grind it for the horses, as was the custom in that country, and he came to the house without the load of gorse, crying out for mercy, so that his cry was heard across the whole countryside, though he had given no consideration to religious things before. Those whose houses were far away would come to the school in the morning with food in their pockets in order to stay for the afternoon sermon, or to the sermon to stay for the prayer meeting in the evening. The time was used in each reading a verse and explaining it as best they could, or to read out loud Gurnall’s book, which book was always on the table in the loft or vestry, which had been given by some benefactors for the service of the chapel so to use. Almost all the inhabitants of Bryncroes and Mellteyrn, and part of the parishes of Penllech, Llangwnadl, Llaniestyn, and Rhiw, went to Tymawr at that time. Doubtless not everything at that time is to be praised; yea, there were many things connected with that revival that made many a one say ‘They are full of new wine’; but I have not seen, and I have seen many things too, one so free of the sad things that attributed to them in religious revivals as that revival in Tymawr, in 1811. It effects were more enduring, and fewer turned back, as a fruit of the revival was behind the Methodist cause in Tymawr for years afterwards. They are almost all gone now – only a few remain that have not been removed by death, and the Lord of the vineyard hurry its like again!’ [Parch. W Rowlands, Y Geiniogwerth, Ionawr 1851, pp.6-11 (NB Rowlands gives date of Ty Mawr revival as 1811. RJ & MR are united in 1813 being the date)] 1818 Revival reported in Clynog, Caernarfonshire (MC ii. 165)

This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

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