Primitive Methodist Chapel - Birkenhead (1905)

To-night’s Revival meetings in Birkenhead was the most remarkable of the series yet held in connection with the Liverpool visit,and may be regarded as proof, if such were necessary, that the conditions of the Revival, and also the results, are the same everywhere. The interest in Mr Evan Roberts continues to increase, and although, of course, there are some here, as elsewhere, who criticise the Revival and the Revivalist, the welcome accorded by the vast majority is so thorough as to create surprise among those who know Liverpool best. The service was held in the England Primitive Methodist Chapel – an old-fashioned, but capacious, edifice, and, as at Anfield-road last night, as soon as the door were thrown open at six p.m. crowds flocked into the chapel, and almost immediately filled it to overflowing. The service was promptly opened “on Revival lines” in Welsh. While what may be regarded as the routine work of the service is proceeding I will jet down some interesting items about Evan Roberts himself. In addition to the information already published about his gifts of £200 to Pisgah and £150 to Moriah (Loughor), it is as well to state some other things I know in regard to the money distribution. I have already said he had given away much more than he had received for his Revival services. It may be added that, in addition to the sums given to chapels, donations to private individuals – deserving cases – are heard of here and there. In one instance a poor, struggling student received £3 to assist him. But, perhaps, even more interesting than that to the general public is his gift to an old lady in Loughor, known locally as “Granny.” Hearing that the young men of the village were making up a sum to give to Evan Roberts in recognition of his early services at Loughor, she insisted upon giving two shillings herself. “It is too much,” said someone. “No,” replied the old lady, “the Lord will repay me.” Well, when on the platform at Loughor after booking for Liverpool last Tuesday, Evan Roberts was emptying his pockets. Turning to a friend he said, “there are two half-sovereigns: give these to ‘Granny.’ Then, feeling in his pockets, he discovered another half-sovereigns, so he added. “Here’s another for her.” That was his last half-sovereign, and it was as well, in view of the carping criticism sometimes heard in South Wales about the Revival being “a money-making concern,” that this should be definitely known. Now to return to Birkenhead services. Let me say that while the main chapel was overcrowded, so also, were the English Baptist Chapel, Grange-road, and the Welsh Wesleyan Chapel, Claughton–road, and the services were all warm. But the singing is certainly not the secret of the success of the movement in Liverpool, as one Liverpool critic, writing to a daily newspaper here, seems to think. The congregational singing here is just what is not typical of the Revival. It is too slow, too funereal, and not so united as it might be. It is all in the minor key. Even “Marchog, Iesu yn llwyddianus” (“Ride victorious, blessed Jesus”) is too apologetic. But even the singing is improving and was better on Friday night than it had been at any previous service. Prayer in which the secret of the revival lies, is as effective in Liverpool as elsewhere, the principal drawback is curiosity. This Birkenhead meeting clearly showed it, for when Mr Evan Roberts, accompanied by Miss Annie Davies and the Rev. John Williams, Prince’s-road, arrived, the proceedings almost stopped. Perched high in a pulpit which held him about 15ft from the floor of the chapel, the evangelist became at once the centre of observation. Subsequently, there came a startling development. Someone was praying for God to come nearer when Evan Roberts opened the pulpit Bible and looked as if anxious to speak. The congregation began singing a hymn, but he stopped them, saying God would not come nearer until something was cleared away. There were some present, he declared, who could not pray the Lord’s Prayer. They might say it, but could not pray it, because they did not forgive others their trespasses against them. It would be a bitter time for some of them unless they forgave. He (the speaker) could not compel them to forgive. He could only invite them. Let them forgive immediately, or tell God they could not, and ask Him to strengthen them. They could not worship without forgiving. The announcement seemed to create a profound impression, and several people, men and women, began praying, singly and simultaneously, that the obstacle might be removed. One young woman asked God to bend every knee. A young man from Rhos gave thanks for the great work done in his own district and asked that every head should be bowed. Here some few people began to sing, but Evan Roberts again stopped the singing, and said: -“There is to be a clearance.” Prayers continued – passionate and earnest. Many stood with tears in their eyes, and some sobbed audibly, “Gwaa drefn arnoni ni” (“Deal with us”) cried one; “Send the leaders of the Church here,” cried another. Evan Roberts again interposed, declaring that the people he referred to were important men, and they need not be surprised if they had a “gwasgfa” (crushing), and their names given to him to announce. A little boy of eleven prayed earnestly for the prevalence of “love like the oceans” to enable people to forget as well as to forgive trespasses, and remember only the infinite love of God. One man gave thanks for the power to forgive. Someone had offended him, and he asked that the same power be given to others if there were any there. “Yes, there are,” said Evan Roberts. Someone struck up “Gwaed y Crees” (“The blood on the Cross”), but Evan Roberts again stopped the singing. “Don’t sin, please,” he said; “it is not clear yet.” The evangelist's lips moved, and his whole attitude indicated a passionate silent prayer being offered up by him. Presently he said some might think he ought not to have interfered with the proceedings, and would have preferred the “hwyl,” but cleansing and purifying the meeting was more important. He several times declared that there were still some who had not forgiven, and then he gave the message, “So I am against you, said the Lord,” and after a while he said: - “Now we can sing: please sing “Ymgrymed pawb i lawr” (“Let every knee be bent”), to the tune ‘Lovely,’ and sing it with authority and power.” And the singing which followed was remarkable. Evan Roberts hastened the “tempo,” and led the singing into quite a new groove for Liverpool. Miss Annie Davies sang “Dyma Feible anwyl Iesu” (“Here is Jesus’s own dear Bible”). The Rev. John Williams led the Lord’s Prayer in Welsh and Miss Annie Davies led it in English, the congregation joining fervently. The Rev. John Williams then tested the meeting, and when conversions were declared Evan Roberts quickened the time of the singing of “Diolch Iddo,” so that the service became as enthusiastic and high-pitched as most of the meetings held in South Wales. Among the converts was the brother of a well-known South Wales minister, and when this was publicly stated Evan Roberts quickly retorted, “He has Jesus Christ for a Brother now, too.” Altogether this was unquestionably the most wonderful meeting yet held in the Liverpool district.

From, 'The Western Mail', 31st March 1905.

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