Tabernacle Welsh Independent - Skewen (1905)

Notwithstanding the slight fall of rain which took place this morning, a large crowd gathered outside the Tabernacle Chapel, Skewen, awaiting the opening of the doors. Some were there shortly after eleven o’clock and suffered the inconvenience of standing there until nearly twelve noon, when they were admitted, and the building was soon filled to overflowing. This meeting was quite as remarkable for its devotional character as that of Tuesday afternoon, and also for the fervour with which Welsh and English people joined in singing. The English heartily sang “Diolch iddo” and “Pen Calfaria” while the Welsh joined with equal earnestness in the English version of “O, yr Oen, yr addfwyn Oen!” to which the English sang “Oh, the Lamb, the bleeding Lamb.” When prayers had been offered a young woman in the gallery struck up- “Aeth yn brydnawn, mae yn hwyrhau, Mae drws trugarred heb ei gau.” “Gone is the morn, ‘tis getting late, But open still is Mercy’s Gate.” The Rev. T. Hughes (C.M.) Stockport, read a portion of Ezekiel, descriptive of the captivity of Israek, and the account of the valley of dry bones. Prayers and hymns again followed, one lengthy speech being interrupted by the singing of “O, yr Oen, yr addfwyn Oen” (sing simultaneously in Welsh and English), and during the singing of this hymn Mr Evan Roberts arrived, and almost immediately afterwards “ Pa Dduw sy’n maddau fel Tydi?” was struck up, and sung with remarkable enthusiasm. Among those who took a very active interest in the proceedings was the Rev. F. S. Webster, vicar of All Souls’, Langham-place, London, one of the founders of the Church Army. Mr Webster prayed in English in the afternoon and struck up two or three of the English hymns which were sung by the congregation. A lady who at one time resided at Skewen - Mrs Penn Lewis - was also prominent at some of the services. Mr Evan Roberts at the outset declared that there were some things there that afternoon which had a tendency to sadden the eyes of the Holiness of God. They must remember the place in which they were met and the importance of the work. The subject was not one to play with. They were there to worship the Living God. Did they realise this? Did they act upon it? Unfortunately, he continued, the world read the Bible through the lives of members of Christian Churches. Incidentally referring to the need of wisdom- “the wisdom”- he asked how many of them asked to be given them wisdom. “Oh,” they might say, “we have been blessed with wisdom; we have intelligence and understanding.” But that was not sufficient. They needed wisdom to-day, and they needed it continually. If the Churches of Wales prayed for love, for faith and for wisdom, Wales would, indeed, become a “Cymru Weu” (a Holy Wales). A woman’s prayer interrupted the evangelist, and before the conclusion of the prayer the congregation began singing very softly and tenderly as an accompaniment to her earnest petition the Welsh version of “Lead, Kindly Light,” and this continued during a tearful prayer offered by Miss Annie Davies, Maesteg. One of the features of this service was the number of prayers- eloquent and fervent- offered up by women, nearly all Welsh, and the prayers were typical of the effects of Sunday school training- more characteristic, I should, perhaps, remark of the villages of the more Anglicised towns of the Principality. From, 'The Western Mail', 11th January 1905. Another Account The evening meeting was at the other end of the village, at the Tabernacle. Here, too, there were about 1,500 people crammed into a chapel that would look very full with 900. The windows in the lobby were taken out to prevent suffocation, and the doors were wide open, but whilst this arrangement let in air, for which we were thankful, it also admitted sounds, for which we were not. Although a large overflow meeting was held at Horeb Baptist Chapel there was still a surging crowd in the street, and the police said there were thousands. This is very like an exaggeration, and yet there were probably more outside than there were in. The huge throng distressed and alarmed the babies and their mothers, and they all disturbed us, except when we were singing, and such glorious harmony nothing could disturb. It soothed the disappointed hosts outside, and as soon as we stopped Babel began again. Ordinarily this would have been fatal to a really good meeting, and it was a very serious hindrance, but it was astonishing with what tact and patience and judgement Evan Roberts led us on step by step to disregard these distractions, till in the last half hour we gained a glorious victory, and finished the day with hallelujahs. I found myself next to Rev. Llewellyn Morgan, of Neath Abbey, in the Swansea (Welsh) Circuit. The membership of his church was 142, and the revival has brought him seventy more, including several who had given up attendance at any place of worship. This is proportionately one of the largest increases recorded among our Wesleyan churches. One young man who prayed fervently was the organist of our little chapel at Pontardawe, and another lad of sixteen from the same place also prayed with wonderful force and passion. Both of these have only learnt to pray in the revival. One old man asked God to melt all the icebergs in the churches, and this led a London vicar to thank God that the symbol of Christianity is not ice (although to judge by some Christians we should think it was), but fire — not wild fire, but holy fire. The next brother did not seem to be so afraid of wild fire, for he asked God that we might get on fire with such big flames that no one could put them out. In England everybody knows that grand old song, The Lost Chord. In Wales recently at their singing festivals one of their best-known songs has been a lamentation over The Lost Amen. But in the revival the lost has been found, and nothing has been more surely recovered than the Amen. So now a stirring melody has been composed rejoicing in the Return of the Amen. At this evenings service a peasant girl with eyes shut, and as if completely absorbed in her theme, declaimed this new song with magnificent effect, and it succeeded in rousing to the full that national fervour that is so inimitable. It was a wonderful effort, and there wasn’t a Welsh heart that wasn’t stirred or a Welsh face that wasn’t wet with tears. Later on in this service Evan Roberts put a searching question which he has put once before, but not when I have been present. Will those of you who have done your best for Jesus stand up? Six or eight near me in the big pew, including two London clergymen well known at the Keswick meetings, immediately arose, but no one else in that crowded assembly seemed prepared to bear such a testimony. Personally I dared not, for this reason. I honestly believed I had done my best for Him as far as quantity was concerned, but when I thought of the quality of this quantity, it was far from satisfactory to me, and so I was sure its defects would be still more glaring in God’s white light And so I sat still and asked instead, as a devout woman did last week, Lord, make me like a white sheet of paper without blots. As the meeting came to a close about ten o’clock briefly I witnessed a scene the like of which I have not known before. Evan Roberts called upon Christian people to stand and testify in the words of Scripture. First people rose in dozens, then in scores, next in hundreds, and all of them quietly and reverently quoting Scripture. No one shouted. It was a most exhilarating exercise, and as the faces of the witnesses beamed with the joy of the Lord I could only ascribe the glory to Him who hath washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God.

From, 'The Great Revival in Wales', by S B Shaw, page 24-25.

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