Ebenezer Welsh Congregational Chapel - Trecynon (1904)

Modest almost to the point of despair was the beginning made by the Evan Roberts revival mission at Trecynon this evening, and the omens pointed to orthodox quietness rather than to a repetition of the exuberance of emotional fervour which has characterised in such a remarkable degree the revival services at Loughor. When the service was timed to commence at Ebenezer Chapel the empty pews were more numerous than the people assembled, and there was a coldness in the atmosphere which boded ill for a successful meeting. Those who know Trecynon—a little village which nestles closely on the borders of Aberdare—with its traditions of religious zeal, will be most surprised to know that Ebenezer was not besieged on such an occasion, and, perhaps, at the same time, they will best appreciate the laconic remark of a village stoic that “the fair at Aberdare was a powerful counter-attraction.” Instead of finding an eager throng outside the gates of the chapel I was surprised to see only some half-dozen small groups of miners and their wives and sons gathered together, just as is their wont on the occasion of the ordinary weekly prayer meeting. Later in the evening the reason for this sparse attendance became obvious. The service commenced so early that workmen had not been given sufficient time to go to their homes from their work and to change their working clothes for those which they considered to be better befitting a religious service. While the few who had seated themselves in the chapel were waiting for the arrival of the young revivalist an elderly man sitting beneath the gallery offered up a prayer, and a young man who was sitting in another part of the building recited the words of the popular Welsh hymn, “Disgwyl ‘rwyf ar hyd yr hirnos,” the last two lines of which were being repeated when the five young ladies from Loughor who have played so prominent a part in the mission with their speech and song walked up the aisle and seated themselves in the “set fawr.” One of them, possessing a sweet mezzo-soprano voice of singular tenderness, sang Happy Day,” and the early coldness was already beginning to thaw under the influence of the intensifying fervour with which the refrain was sung and sung again. The melody was in full swing when Mr Roberts took his seat beneath the pulpit. Before uttering a word he approached the old man who had been the first to pray and grasped his hand. The building by this time was filling rapidly. Evan Roberts looked pale but was full of animation. While another hymn was being sung he walked up and down the aisle, swinging his arms and clapping his hands. At times he gave a short, sharp spring off his right foot, and smiled joyously upon the people around him. There was no conventionality, no artificiality or affectation in his manner. The expression on his open, attenuated, and distinctly intellectual face was that of a man with a mission and reminded one of the portraits to be seen in so many Welsh homesteads of men who were leaders in the two previous religious revivals in Wales. Speaking in Welsh, He discarded the stereotyped preface so commonly in vogue among preachers in the Principality and straightway declared the faith that was in him. He had not come there, he said, to frighten them with a discourse on the terrors of everlasting punishment. His belief was that the love of Christ was a powerful enough magnet to draw the people. That was his own personal experience, and he had found a joy which was far beyond human expression. No one but the true believer knew in reality what it was to have a light heart and unalloyed happiness. Denominationalism did not enter into his religion. Some people had said he was a Methodist. He did not know what he was. Sectarianism melted in the fire of the Holy Spirit, and all men who believed became one happy family. For years he was a faithful member of the Church, a zealous worker, and a free giver. But he had recently discovered that he was not a Christian, and there were thousands like him. It was only since he had made that discovery that a new light had come into his life. That same light was shining upon all men if they would but open their eyes and their hearts. Reverting to sectarianism, he said that whilst sect was fighting against sect the devil was clapping his hands with glee and encouraging the fight. Let all people be one, with one object—the salvation of sinners. Men refused to accept the Gospel and confess because, they said, of the gloom and uncertainty of the future. They looked to the future without having opened their eyes to the infinite glories of the present. They talked about the revival of 1859. Why there would be a perpetual revival if men would only keep their hearts open instead of closing them to every influence. If anyone had come there that evening with the intention of making an impression, he advised him or her to refrain. Unless they felt that they were moved to speech or song, let them keep their peace. He did not come there to glorify himself. Glad tidings had come from Loughor concerning a mission among the gipsies in their encampment near that place. The soul of a gipsy was of no less value than that of any other human creature. Such was the substance of Mr Roberts’s address. He spoke for an hour and a quarter under evident restraint, and in a quiet, confident style. He made no attempt at rhetoric and was never at a loss for a phrase or a word. Those who might have come to scoff and did not remain to pray must, at any rate, have been deeply impressed with the profound earnestness of the young man, and there is no doubting his absolute sincerity and conviction. Immediately he had resumed his seat two elderly women rose simultaneously, one speaking in Welsh and the other in English. The voice of her who spoke the latter language rang out clearly, and a common thrill trembled through the assembly as a. breath of wind runs across the sea. Her last words were, I love my Master because I know what He has done for me,” and then she fell back in the pew. A young woman came forward with the Bible in her hand and was preparing to read when Mr Roberts asked the people to sing “Duw mawr y rhyfeddodau maith,” the stirring words of which were repeated several times. After reading a portion of Scripture the young woman knelt down in prayer, and an impassioned fervour spread into all parts of the crowded chapel. During the remainder of the night many men and women broke forth in prayer and song, and a meeting which had opened so coldly was in a white heat of religious enthusiasm before the last word had been said. From, 'The Western Mail', 14th November 1904.

At Trecynon and Aberdare the revivaI inaugurated by Mr Roberts’s mission increased immensely in power during this week, although Mr Roberts has not been there since last Wednesday. The communion service at the Welsh Congregational Chapel, Aberdare, on Sunday last is described as the most impressive ever known to have been held within the memory of anyone present. At Heol-y-felin, Aberdare, arrangements have been made for what will, undoubtedly, be an extraordinary and impressive sight next Sunday, when between 90 and 100 adults will be publicly baptised by immersion. At Abercynon the great gatherings held on Monday and Tuesday were inspiring in their fervour. From, 'The Western Mail', 14th November 1904.

To attempt to adequately describe the scenes which marked the meeting at Ebenezer Chapel, Trecynon, during the early hours of Friday morning would be a futile task, and the nearest approach to a due portrayal thereof would be the statement that men and women had become helpless victims to religious fervour. To employ a forcible remark which was used by one of the local ministers, who was present. “The incident was the embodiment of emotional pain which has so overcome the people that they were quite unconscious of the manner in which they unburdened themselves of their overwhelming emotion.” There can exist no doubt that the movement has penetrated into the very marrow, for prayer services were being held at the outside villages long before nine o’clock on Friday morning. A well-known Atheist, named Tom Hughes, of Trecynon, got up at the meeting at Ebenezer Chapel and said that during the day he had burned all his books. Then he went on his knees and prayed fervently for a very long time. In the course of his prayer he earnestly counselled all those persons, who, as he himself had done, were reading those Atheistical books to discard them forthwith and to follow his example by embracing the faith. From, 'The Western Mail,' 18th November 1904.

Additional Information

I am a bit confused. I know that meetings were held here, but the big meeting was in Ebenezer, Aberdare. GENUKI says there was such a church, but I cannot find any reference to it elsewhere. Perhaps they viewed Trecynon as part of Aberdare. The church is closed.

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