Van Road United Reform Church - Caerphilly (1904)

The Van-road chapel was crowded before six p.m. for a service supposed to begin at seven. There was no wasted time, however, for the congregation sang Welsh and English hymns alternately, so that by the appointed hour the meeting had attained a high pitch of enthusiasm and fervour. Mr. Evan Roberts arrived about a quarter to seven, and promptly rose to address the congregation, and, notwithstanding the crowded state of the aisles and lobby, it is significant that there was absolute silence while he spoke, and that his queries, put with a view of setting people thinking quite as much as eliciting answers, were replied to with intelligence and quickness as well as reverence. The heat was intense, and the atmosphere close, so that Mr Roberts had, to appeal for more ventilation, and while the congregation was slacking its “crush” over the staircase which led up from the vestry he asked the people to sing “Lead, Kindly Light,” and to do it prayerfully. The hymn was sung in English, very deliberately, and seemingly with full responsibility of the serious request made to them. On resuming his remarks Mr Roberts said he had been compelled to say that he believed that this revival would not only come to Wales, and reach all Wales, but that it would go over England, Scotland, and Ireland as well. More than that, he considered that we were on the eve of a revival which would go over the whole world. They were told that in the last days certain things would happen, and he read his Bible to mean that we lived in the “last days.” Young men “saw visions,” and others “dreamed dreams”; there was bloodshed on earth and there were signs in the heavens. He had, he said, himself seen a vision of a candle burning brightly, and then the light of the sun shining upon all; and he took it to mean the light of the Gospel first as a candle, and then the great sun shining upon the whole world. When “public confession” is invited, the responses are fairly numerous, but it is a new “family”—unused to the orderly disorder of the revival, and the question— “Will everyone who confess Christ rise” only brings a few, say 40 or 50 people, to their feet. Bringing his hand down somewhat heavily upon the big pulpit Bible, Mr Evan Roberts, raising his voice in surprise, ask, “What! Is this the number of these in this congregation who confess Jesus Christ?” The Rev. Tawelfryn Thomas, standing on the temporary platform beside the revivalist, shouts out “No, no!” and the audience realise that they have not come to Iddoentertainment, but to “show their side” and the response came, as might have been expected. The responses did not even then become so numerous proportionately to the size of the congregation as might have been anticipated if the meeting had been packed by members of Churches of the various denominations. What was the secret? Well, simply that among those who were present there were very many persons who were not members anywhere. In this respect the meeting answered its purpose much better than many of the gatherings which have been held elsewhere. “Throw out the life-line” was sung, and the converts enrolled were numerous, The chapel is supposed to accommodate about 500 people. Admit, if you like, that, packed as it was, it held 650 that night, Then just look at the proportion. Thirty to thirty-five converts declaring for Christ, and others getting up gradually as the service went on until the number had reached fifty-nine! It was interesting work and the singing of “Diolch iddo,” “For you I am praying,” Come to Jesus just now,” and other hymns went on, prayers alternating with exhortation and praise until a little after one o’clock in the morning, when Mr Evan Roberts, in order to get ready for Tuesday’s work, left the meeting to go to his lodgings. The meeting was still carried on, the Rev. T. Bush, the Rev. C. Tawelfryn Thomas, and others taking part, and by about four o’clock in the morning— for the people did not seem to want to go away—the list of converts had run up to ninety and nine! From, 'The Western Mail', 5th December 1904. It was estimated that on Tuesday night at all the chapels there must have been over 123 converts.

From, 'The Western Mail', 6th December, 1904.

Related Wells