First Presbyterian Church, Londonderry - D L Moody (1874)



One of the most satisfactory features of the visit has been the unanimity and cordiality with which the ministers of all the denominations not only joined in the original invitation to Messrs Moody and Sankey but also assisted in the furtherance of the work during the present week. Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and Independent seemed to have but one object in one desire to make the work of revival among the people as general and widespread as possible. The original request to Messrs Moody and Sankey emanated some months ago from the committee of the weekly midday prayer meeting, in conjunction with the Young Men's Christian association. All the ministers who were asked to put their churches at the disposal of the committee intimated their willingness to do so. The First Presbyterian Church however was selected for holding the meetings for no other reason than it was the largest and therefore best able to accommodate the large numbers likely to be present.

Messrs Moody and Sankey arrived in Derry from Belfast on Saturday evening and commenced their labours on Sunday the 11th, with the same spirit of energy and enthusiasm which carried them through so much in Belfast. Mr Moody exhibited little trace of hard work or fatigue, though for some weeks past he has gone through an amount of mental and physical toil under which many men would have completely broken down. There were the same freshness and vigour, the same fertility of illustration and pointed application, the same earnestness and simplicity, the same zeal and enthusiasm and the same intense desire to win souls for his master. Three services on the Sabbath and the same number on each of the following three days of the week with inquiry meetings each evening has been his programme here and he never seemed to fail either in body or mind. He appeared conscious of the shortness of his visit and seemed to grow more earnest in consequence.

While Mr Moody faithfully presented the gospel Mr Sankey was no less faithful in his lessons in song. He was so admirably assisted by a local choir as to draw a special eulogium from Mr Moody at one of the noon meetings. He said he had heard a great many choirs assist these meetings, but he had never yet heard one which sang so sweetly and so well as the one which had been organised to assist in singing the praises of God in Londonderry. On the same occasion, he referred to the importance of the church paying greater attention to the subject of praise. Some are only for singing the psalms, but he thought they should also sing new songs. A new hymn was just as good as the sermon. They could sing the gospel into many a man's heart. He hoped the church would feel alive in its duty in this matter of praise and not be hindered by prejudice which is the twin sister of unbelief.

The opening meeting was intended for Christian workers and Mr Moody dwelt especially on the subject of Christian work and gave some earnest and practical counsel. On the same day, two meetings were held in the First Presbyterian Church, one at four and the other at 8:00 o'clock. The ordinary congregational services were conducted in the church at 12:00 o'clock, without any instrumental accompaniment in the praise. At both special services, the church was crowded to overflowing and the gates had to be closed half an hour before the commencement of the service. Indeed, at the evening meeting the church was filled at 7:00 o'clock, the people crowding in such numbers to the service. Overflow meetings were held in the Wesleyan Chapel and were pretty well attended, though better in the evening than in the afternoon.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, three services were held each day, including one children's service. Owing to the heavy downpour of rain on Monday, the church was not so well filled as on the other days, when the congregations were very large; but on each evening fully 2,000 found accommodation in the church, fitting it from floor to ceiling, while the hundreds unable to gain admission went to the Wesleyan Chapel, where they were suitably addressed. The concluding meeting on Wednesday evening was especially large and the services particularly solemn. On each occasion the meeting was conducted after the style of the meetings in Belfast, which must already be familiar to all our readers.

With regard to the audiences, they were thoroughly representative. Young and old of all classes, not only of the inhabitants of Derry but the surrounding districts for miles around attended. Excursion trains on the Irish North Western Railway and the Northern Counties Railway brought many into the town, while hundreds walked and drove many miles in order to be present at the meetings. The attendances steadily increased to the close and as the last of the services approached, there seemed to be a general expression of regret on the part of all interested. A noticeable incident in connexion with the meetings was the large number of clergymen who were present at them.

The prevailing characteristic of all the meetings was intense earnestness and solemnity but without any undue excitement. The services seemed to awaken the liveliest interest in the public mind and to produce a marked impression. The inquiry meetings after the first night were well attended, large numbers of both sexes remaining for conversation and prayer with Mr Moody and the Christian workers who were admitted to converse with the anxious. In this respect, every precaution was taken that none but duly qualified persons should be admitted. The times occupied at these meetings was brief, but the addresses and conversations earnest and impressive. 

"The Christian," October 22nd, 1874.


Related Wells