Siloah Welsh Independent Chapel - Aberdare (1904)

An account of a Revival service by an unsaved churchgoer.

Familiar revival melodies reached my ears. It seemed as if an angelic choir had come from heaven to drown earth’s sorrows in a sea of song. It was marvellous! Could the singers be miners? The sweetness of the air, “O! say, will you take up your cross? O! say will you take up your cross ?“ captured me. Yes, I was actually turning the little refrain over in my mind when I met a young woman, greatly agitated. She was well known to me. But what power had stirred her to the extent that she seemed beside herself? This was so unusual for her that I felt startled. Had someone molested, insulted, or frightened her? That could hardly be on such a bright, snowy morning, with the sunbathing the old earth with majestic glory. With an appealing tremble in her voice she exclaimed, “You must come—you must come at once—you must come at once to the revival !“She pointed excitedly to Siloah Chapel, the source of the glorious music. “It is wonderful—wonderful—in there! Come quick !“ Amazement took hold of me. For once in my life the power of speech deserted me-I simply looked on. I must have looked at her incredulously for she persisted in exclaiming, “It is wonderful—wonderful—wonderful !“ Like one in a dream, I accompanied her to the chapel—or rather, the vestry door. Again the rapture of the singing thrilled me. Lustily they sang,

"The law has now been crowned

Stern justice stands exalted

The Father calls us blessed through the blood

And Zion has been ransomed through the blood"

(Such is a rough translation of the words by these inspired miners.) Such marvellous singing, quite extempore, could only be created by a supernatural power, and that power the divine Holy Spirit. No choir, no conductor, no organ—just spontaneous, unctionised soul-singing!

An irresistible attraction, resembling a tremendous magnetic force, drew us inside the vestry. All the seats were occupied, except a few right in the front. Directed by this woman, I tiptoed up the aisle to a seat. It must have been about ten o’clock and lo! the vestry was a mass of worshipers absorbed in the adoration of God. Almost as soon as we were seated, the woman slipped to her knees, breaking forth in such passionate prayer as I had scarcely ever heard, certainly not outside of the revival meetings. No one would have credited her with such eloquence. Indeed, no one had ever heard her engage in public prayer. Words poured from her lips. She was like Gad of old, of whom it was prophesied that “a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at last.” The power of God had overwhelmed her, and she was now overcoming. All shyness, timidity, frailty, and human weakness had vanished.

What a place is this! Everybody seemed to have been affected by this prayer, for all were engaging in intercession, without let or hindrance. One person, with a yearning for communion with God, had mightily moved this congregation heavenward. It would need more bravado than bravery for any man to have dared to interfere with this inrush of divine power.

Singing, sobbing, praying intermingled and proceeded without intermission. When this glorious commotion seemed to have reached a peak, there came through the air a small melodious voice softly singing, “Come to Jesus; come to Jesus; come to Jesus now.” It persisted until the people joined in the sweet refrain, inviting sinners to take the irrevocable step that meant salvation. It must have commenced in one of the back seats. But all hearts were soon completely captivated. People joined heartily in the invitation which echoed and re-echoed through the building. It was producing results. In the middle of this singing, a man was heard sobbing and saying, “Pray, pray, pray, please pray for me! I am lost—lost—lost!“ He fell on his knees exclaiming passionately, “O God! I am lost—lost—lost!“ “Come to Jesus, come to Jesus, come to Jesus just now. Just now, come to Jesus, come to Jesus just now,” sang the inspired congregation.

Many of us were now deeply concerned and occupied with this awakened soul, wondering what was going to happen to him. Someone whispered his name, “W—P—.” Another picked it up and passed on the message. Before long, many in that congregation were saying, “It’s W— P—.” Soon Silyn Evans left his seat and went straight to the stricken man. His usually cheery countenance was grave. Placing his hand upon the quivering form he whispered words of comfort, and the struggling soul became quiet.

Lifting up his hand, Mr. Evans returned thanks to God for recovering this wandering sheep who had long deserted the fold for the enticing plains of Sodom, where he had been ruined.

W-P -was now only a phantom of his old self. He was the prodigal son of an old deacon of that church, a godly deacon whose Christian character was known throughout all the churches in the valley. His heart had been broken by this reckless boy who had wasted his substance with riotous living. He had died with this lad’s name on his lips. W—P----- came back in a pitiful condition, broken in health, ruined in body, destitute, friendless and forlorn. His clothes were worn garments patched and strung together. His toes protruded through the gaping holes of what had once been shoes, now only pieces of leather strung together with cords and bits of old shoelace. An outcast of the town, drink had done its deadly work in the life of this former Sunday school-boy. He had not darkened the door of a church for years. His appearance in the miners’ service that morning constituted a challenge—how did he get there? What had induced him to come? Had anyone exercised any influence for good upon him and persuaded him to visit the scene of the revival at least once? Or had news of the wonderful meetings held in all parts of the country created within him an irresistible curiosity? We can only conclude that the human derelict had somehow been prompted by an inner monitor to come, with the glorious result recorded.

The young revivalists soon gathered around him. News had gone around the town like wildfire. By the close of the day, almost everybody had heard that poor William had been converted in the revival in Siloah. It made great news. His wretched destitution was remedied immediately. The townspeople collected funds to secure for him a new of clothes. Underclothes were provided to cover his pathetically shrunken body. Shoes and stockings for his feet were purchased so that in a few hours he was appearing in the streets “clothed and in his right mind.” It was a great triumph.

This evidence of the wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit upon this benighted soul produced marvellous results. Christians gave themselves up to unrestrained rejoicing, almost frenzied delight. “Diolch, Iddo— Diolch Iddo” sang the people. An elderly gentleman shouted, “A brand plucked from the burning,” over and over again. He evidently was acquainted with the case—perhaps more so than any others present.

From, 'I saw the Welsh Revival', by David Matthews.

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