A letter from the Reverend John Eddie of the Free Church.
For upwards of a year previous to the commemoration of the tri-centenary of the first general assembly we frequently met at the close of public worship for special prayer, for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this and the other islands of Orkney. At these meetings a brief account of the revival in Ireland and Scotland was given in which all seemed greatly interested. Encouraged by the information of what the Lord in answer to prayer was doing in Sanday, when intimation was made on sabbath, the 16th of December, that the following Thursday would be observed as a Day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings of the Reformation, and for his goodness in the late harvest, I exhored the congregation to be much in prayer for the descent of the Holy Ghost, as I strongly felt that the Lord would give me a token for good on that day. So the day was observed with all the stillness of the sabbath and I decide to change in the solemnity and attention of the congregation was quite apparent. At the prayer meeting in the evening the solemnity and attention was still greater and some were brought under the conviction of sin and made to feel the necessity of salvation through Christ.
From the 6th to the 14th of January meetings were held every evening, which were numerously attended, and though continued for upwards of three hours the people listened with unwearied attention and at the close numbers often remained for advice and consultation. On the ninth and 10th Mr Harcus, Baptist minister, Westray, preached and several layman from the island engaged in prayer, one of whom also gave a short account of the revival in Rapness.
Our meetings are now held twice a week and continue to be well attended. At the district prayer meetings the attendance is also greatly increased. The spirit of prayer seems to be poured out upon old and young. Some now engage in prayer at our meetings who never open their mouths in public before and there is good reason to believe that the family altar is not so much neglected as formally. Last week young men and women have commenced prayer meetings of their own. The little children too meet in different parts of the island to pour out their young hearts to the Lord. I have been informed that some of the children on their way home from school have prayed together in boats on the beach and by the Dykeside.
A number of the Lord's people have been greatly revived and some anxious souls have found peace and joy in believing. These are some of the tokens for good amongst us – some of the encouragement to hope that the Lord will yet do greater things for us, whereby our hearts should be made glad.
'Orkney Herald', 5/3/1861