Gorphwysfa Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel - Skewen (1905)

From the midst of the miners and steel-workers of Birchgrove to the neighbourhood occupied by the tin-plate workers and colliers of Skewen is a distance of only about four miles and yet the change in the faces, if not in the type of those faces, was clear. This was possible due to the influx of visitors, of course, but also to the determination of the people of the district to gain admission. Not only was there a large attendance at the morning service, but a considerable number remained in the chapel throughout the interval between the morning and afternoon services. Those who doubt the possibility of the existence of the revival in the Established Church will be interested, perhaps, to learn that one of the first faces I recognised at the meetings held in Gorsphwsfa (C.M.) Chapel, Skewen, was that of the vicar, the Rev. T. O. Phillips. It goes without saying that the revival has “broken out” in the Skewen Church, and that services connected with the great movement have been held there for several weeks past. Another fact bearing upon the same aspect of the revival I heard in Swansea. At the morning service the Rev. Elvet Lewis, in the course of a brief address, remarked that the revival of 1859 took place soon after he was born, and one of the best-known hymns of that period which his mother used to sing, was this:- Y Gwr wrth ffyon Jacob Eieteddodd yo i lawr. Dramwyodd drwy Samaria Tramwyed yma’n awr; Bu syched aro yno Am gael eu hachub hwy, Mne syched arno eto Am achub llawer mwy He sang it to the tune “Brynian Cassia,” and the congregation took it up well, the “repeat” of “Mwy, mwy- am achub llawer, mwy,” being very effective. The same hymn was used as the master-key to open the hearts of the people at the afternoon service. Next came the beautiful hymn:- Calon lan ya llawn daloni, Tecach yw na’r lili dlos Dim ond calon lan all ganu- Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos. The tune was an adaptation of “If I’ve Jesus, Jesus only.” This was repeated several times, and then at the “Elvet’s” invitation the congregation sang “A welsoch chwi Ef?” with the new verse recently added by a Portmadoc bard:- “O! diolch iddo O! diolch iddo, Am roddi’r taliad mewn pryd Haleliwia iddo Ef Ar delynan aur y nef, Hon yw’r gan bery’n newydd o hyd.” No sooner was this concluded than someone in the gallery struck up, to the tune of Dr Parry’s “Dies Irae”:- Dduw mawr! pa beth a welaf draw? Diwedd a braw yr hollfyd! It is a translation into Welsh of the great English hymn:- “Great God, what do I see and hear? The end of things created” The Rev. T. Morgan (shown) urged the necessity of prayer, and even before he had concluded his invitation a young man in the gallery broke out into a passionate prayer for a downpour of the Spirit on that meeting. Then a man who was described as one who was formally the greatest sinner in the Vale of Neath- a drunkard, gambler, sportsman etc.- prayed, and it was noteworthy that his prayer, evidently sincere and passionate, was bristling with Scriptural passages and Welsh hymns indicating the associations of his early life. Some of his phrases were very quaint, and aroused keen interest as well as an occasional outburst of great enthusiasm. The Rev. Evan Jones, minister of the Tabernacle, in a powerful Welsh prayer, thanked God that men who had been notorious sinners had been converted within the past few weeks. An English prayer by the Rev. Bond Thomas, of London, asked for the blessings of revival for the great Metropolis, as well as for Wales. There was another English prayer, and when a Welsh prayer followed, making mention of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane the congregation sang “Wrth gofio’i riddfanau’n yr ardd,” to the tune of “Rhyl.” Mr Evan Roberts, accompanied by Miss Annie Davies (Maesteg) and Miss Mary Davies (Gorseinon), arrived at two p.m., and rose in the pulpit, but the singing of “I need Thee every hour” went on and prayers followed as if no one had noticed the presence of the evangelist for a time. Mr Roberts, after just touching upon a verse- “For such the Father seeks”- spoke very pathetically of the love of the Saviour for man. Some of them were trampling on the name of the Son. What were others doing for him? A man might say he was not an active opponent of religion or of the Saviour, but that was not sufficient. How much love had they for the Son of God? When they considered how much He did for them, how little was all the love they could return. They were enemies, and yet He sought them out, and gave the Son as propitiation for their sins. Incidentally referring to the possibilities of personal sacrifice and personal calls, he said they might urge that “it was hard”; but the answer was, “Not harder than for the Saviour to leave his Father’s house: it might be dark, but not darker than Calvary.” Earnest prayers in Welsh, especially from young men in the gallery, followed, and the petitions were remarkably pathetic. On several occasions two or three prayed simultaneously. The Rev. T. Ferrier Hulme, M.A., Bristol, standing in the “big pew,” prayed in English, and Mr Evan Roberts rose and addressed the audience in English. He declared that the Spirit which prevailed so largely in Wales to-day would spread not only to England, but throughout the world. He was receiving letters from England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, France, Spain, America, and Africa asking them to remember them in their prayers. One minister from North Wales gave thanks for the outburst of the revival in North Wales, where Snowdon was being shaken by the prayers of the quarrymen; and while nine or ten prayed simultaneously the congregation sang very gently and softly to the tune “Snowdon”:- “O, anfon Di yr Ysbryd Glan.” A petitioner, who declared that he came, with others, from Nottingham, prayed for the Spirit to go with him and his friends to their own county. A Birmingham man prayed for “a moving among the dry bones” in that city, and the congregation, led by a young lady, responded with “Lead, Kindly Light,” to the tune “Sandon.” “An English minister from the far North” read a few verses, after which Mr Evan Roberts, in Welsh, asked where the “obedience” to the Spirit was. Welsh prayer and testimony followed, and when the test was made there were several converts. From, 'The Western Mail,' 10th January 1905. Another Account. It was into the peculiarly sacred atmosphere created by an hour and a half of intensely spiritual worship that Evan Roberts came at two o’clock. They prayed and sang, and sang and prayed, as if nobody noticed him, and yet, of course, everybody had. This absorption in worship just suited him, and he was much impressed by the devout waiting upon God, instead of the mere waiting for the evangelist. The people were now singing, Send the Breeze from Calvary’s Hill, and he asked them to sing it tenderly, and as they instantly and beautifully responded, everybody knew the prayer was answered. He began to talk about that verse, For such the Father seeks, but he soon got to the theme of self-sacrifice, as suggested and required by the great love of which they had been singing. Do you say the call for self-sacrifice is hard? Not harder than for the Son to leave the Fathers house. Is it dark? Not darker than Calvary. The transition from this to ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross,’ was most apt and impressive, and the feeling was almost too intense to be endured. For an hour nearly everything had been in Welsh, and then the English were so stirred that first one and then another prayed and testified, and for the next hour it was nearly all English. Evan Roberts himself shed tears of gratitude and was moved to speak briefly in English, and told how he was receiving letters from England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, France, Spain, America, and Africa. After this the Welsh tongue prevailed, and one minister from North Wales thanked God that Snowdon was being shaken by the prayers of the quarrymen. And whilst nine or ten people were praying at the same time, without any semblance of disorder, the congregation sang very gently and softly in a faint undertone, in which the four parts were beautifully blended, Oh, send the Holy Spirit, Lord. The effect of this soft musical accompaniment to the prayers of several voices cannot be described. It is deeply impressive and often leads the soul into a quiet ecstasy that is truly of Heaven. I believe it would be impossible for us to imitate this special feature of the revival worthily in England I know one instance where it was attempted, and it was a ghastly failure, culminating only in a horrible medley of discordant noises suggestive of pandemonium, or worse. And there are one or two other features in which the Welsh excel, which we may well admire, but not imitate. We shall just prove ourselves ungainly and awkward in attempting to do what we cannot.

From, 'The Great Revival in Wales', by S B Shaw, page 23-4.

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