Parish Church, Sheffield - D L Moody (1875)

The Times on Monday says – “The services held by Messrs Moody and Sankey at Sheffield yesterday were more largely attended than on any previous day. Albert Hall was crowded in the morning long before the commencement of the service and hundreds were turned away from the doors. It had been arranged to hold in the afternoon a special service for women and the multitude assembled was greater than in the morning. Every available space in the saloon, the orchestra and the galleries were occupied. There was an immense crowd of women outside who despaired of ever being able to hear the men whose reputation had probably drawn hundreds of them to the doors day after day. The disappointment was however, reserved for those who succeeded in gaining admittance; For when Messrs Moody and Sankey ascended the platform, the former announced that he purposed holding a meeting in the parish churchyard, considering that so many found it impossible to find places in the hall. Mr Moody proceeded to the churchyard where he and the vicar held an open-air service.” 

Sunday was one of the most glorious days for the work of God ever seen in this town. The day commenced with a crowded and enthusiastic meeting of Christian workers in the Albert Hall. At 11:00 there was a special service for those who are not in the habit of attending any place of worship. Admission by ticket. It was evident that the greatest part of the audience consisted of the class whom it was desired to reach. In order to reach as large a number of persons as possible, a meeting for women was announced at three o'clock and a meeting for men at 7:30, but the hall was crowded to excess long before 3:00 o'clock and the streets outside were thronged with thousands who were unable to obtain admission. Mr Moody announced that he would preach in the parish churchyard, which is only a few minutes walk from the Albert Hall and in the very centre of town. Very soon there was an immense crowd of probably not less than 10,000 persons gathered round the large raised tombstone, which served Mr Moody for a pulpit; Mr Sankey remained in the Albert Hall, which was quite full; So that altogether they had the largest number of persons as yet reached by them in this country at any one time. It was most impressive to see that very vast crowd of human beings listening with breathless interest, as the speaker pressed one appeal after another home to his hearers, using the solemn associations by which they were surrounded with telling effect.

The men's meeting commenced an hour before the time announced, as the hall was crowded to excess at that time. The thousands outside the hall who could not get admission were gathered into groups and addressed by several ministers in the open air and Mr Henry Drummond conducted another meeting in the Temperance Hall…(a few paragraphs missing) The result has been eminently encouraging. The hall was densely packed and the vast majority were evidently of a class little accustomed to the sound of the gospel. This meeting had been made a matter of special prayer and the Lord answered. The Holy Spirit was very manifestly present. Mr Moody's subject was just the "gospel" in all its glorious fullness and freeness. He sought first to remove the false impression so many had of the gospel, as a sad, dreary thing; showed what it was in truth - glad tidings. What it could do for all - set them free - free from death, free from sin - and concluded by a most solemn appeal to all, no matter how lost, how fallen, how sin burdened, to accept and be set at liberty. The effect of this address was most astonishing; everywhere could be seen strong, rough men bent in sorrow, tears streaming from eyes that had evidently been long strangers to such feelings. The inquiry room was crowded with men and women, all with one question - what must I do? 

"The Christian", January 14th, 1875.


The long-looked-for visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to Sheffield has been paid and is now past. The crowded meetings, thrice repeated every day, attended by persons who set aside engagements, alike of business, work, and pleasure, have been accompanied with much power from above. Sheffield is usually considered as a population difficult to arouse, sturdy, independent, unimpressionable; like the metal in which we work in these parts, true, but hard as steel. Yet the place has been thoroughly aroused, and proof to demonstration given that God is able to work here, as in Jerusalem of old, and as in other towns of England now; thus greatly encouraging Christian ministers and labourers to look with faith for greater things. All the meetings have been pervaded by a sense of God's nearness; believers have been filled with fresh joy and fired with new zeal; the anxious have found soul-rest; the careless have been aroused. In fact, we have had at once a revival and an awakening — a revival touching the hearts of God's people, and an awakening spreading among the thoughtless. The influence reached its height on the last night of Mr Moody's presence in the town, when he addressed specially the converts, who were present in goodly numbers, together with a vast crowd of Christian workers. His words seemed to have a thrilling power among us all. When he closed by saying that he did not like " farewell," and "good-bye" was almost as bad; he would therefore just say "goodnight," and meet us in the morning (pointing to the skies), I think the whole audience deeply felt how much our beloved brother had endeared himself to us. And when Mr Sankey followed directly with his touching farewell hymn, so appropriate to such an occasion, and so specially addressing every class of hearers, many were the eyes that were bathed in tears. Had it been possible, we would not have parted with our brethren. But may the Lord go with them in other places, confirming their word with signs and wonders, as He has done here!

The verdict of almost all Christian people upon this movement is, that it is the work of God. I am convinced that such an estimate is just, on many grounds.

1. The movement was an answer to prayer. Though we had not waited on the Lord so long as Christians in some other towns have done, a weekly united prayer meeting had been maintained for nearly a year previously. Many of God's people were also quietly sighing and crying for the abominations of the city, and hungering and thirsting for spiritual blessing. One feature in the prayers previously offered was very noticeable. While all were preparing heartily to welcome Messrs. Moody and Sankey, there was a thorough recognition in the supplications that not they, but their God, must open the floodgates of grace. The Spirit was honoured and we have had the answer.

2. Remarkable unity prevailed. At least in its outward manifestation this was realised, when ministers of the Established Church and those of the Free Churches sat together on the same platform and followed each other in prayer. The force of exhortation, backed by the united sympathy and supplications of the whole Christian Church, is multiplied tenfold. Doubtless Christian union is of God. When will it genuinely prevail? Is not the attainment of it worth the surrender of the causes of division?

3. The movement had a growing power. Its influence at first was not to be compared with what it became in its progress. Indeed, the feeling of myself and of others with whom I have conversed was at first one of disappointment. Both Mr Moody's speaking and Mr Sankey's singing seemed to fall short of what we had expected but it was not long before the impressiveness of both made itself felt to all. To my mind, this is a true test of excellence. A picture, a piece of music, a landscape — do they grow upon you by repetition? The work of these evangelists has grown upon us. I apprehend it would have been the other way, had it not been of God.

4. The stillness was remarkable. The noise and confusion favourable to revivals which are the work of man was altogether absent. The quiet, favourable to the descent and operations of the Holy Ghost, was marked. A man of my acquaintance once observed that "anybody could get up a revival if he only made enough noise." There was nothing of that kind here. Indeed, I noticed that if any brother threw a needless physical exertion into his entreaties, Mr Moody would be sure to say, "Let us have a few minutes' silent prayer;" and this was mostly followed by the subduing strains of Mr Sankey's harmonium and voice. A solemn quiet reigned at all times, and even Mr Moody's humorous sayings did not destroy the solemnity of it. A work done under conditions such as these, so different from those which have prevailed in some "revivals," commends itself to me as the work of God. There are many things that I might touch on; but only one thing more will I mention.

5. The work is evidently one of faith. This quality is very observable in Mr Moody. He has faith — not a proud self-confidence engendered by success, but a humble reliance upon God and fearless expectation of blessing.

"The work of God in Great Britain, under Messrs. Moody and Sankey, 1873-1875: with biographical sketches," by R W Clark, 1875.


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