Ynyshir (1904)

Notwithstanding the inclement weather, crowds continue to flock after the revivalists, and the services conducted by Mr Evan Roberts and the lady evangelists at Ferndale and Ynyshir, in the Rhondda Fach Valley, today were as remarkable as any. When I arrived at Ynyshir, shortly before six pm, there was a small crowd of people patiently waiting for the opening of the doors of the chapel, and when a little later on the people were admitted, there was soon a very comfortable congregation. The pastor (the Rev. Mr Davies) conducted the opening proceedings. A young man referred to the influence of the Spirit upon him since the advent of Mr Roberts, and "Diolch iddo" and "Penn Calfaria" were sung and repeated with wonderful effect. A young lady in the gallery struck up, to a spirited tune. "Yn y dyfroedd mawr a'r tonau" and the last four lines were sung and repeated with a fiery zeal seldom witnessed except when the revival meetings are at the height of their fervour; and the recital of verses from Scripture by people and children of all ages which followed was certainly remarkable. Suddenly there breaks out with a spontaneity which indicated the character of the meeting. "Plant ydym eto dan ein hoed", and while this was being sung Mr Evan Roberts and Miss Rees (Gorseinon) entered the chapel, and went direct to the pulpit, but even then the signing did not cease, but the verse was repeated at least half a dozen times, and then, out of respect to the revivalist, it stopped. Mr Evan Roberts said the singing, especially by the young people, was inspiring. He rejoiced to hear it, and the music broke out once more. Mr Roberts declared that he could listen all night to such singing, and on it went again – "Mae'r etifeddiaeth i ni'n d'od". Taking the words of the stirring hymn for a text, Mr Roberts asked if the children in the gallery were willing to do something for Jesus Christ, and the reply from dozens of young throats was "Yes". "Well" said the missioner, "will you go out into the streets of Ynshir to sing that beautiful hymn as you have sung it here?" "Yes", came the enthusiastic reply. "Well", continued Mr Evan Roberts, "if you sing that in the streets, and it does not create a thirst for the love of Jesus Christ, the people here must be very hard". And I am not surprised at the enthusiasm of the revivalist, for the singing was bright, cheerful, and inspiring, and at no place that I have visited with the revivalist has there been such a volume of young voices, and the special appeal made to the younger section of the audience evidently "fired" all, for the singing from that point onward was, if anything, still more effective. Miss A M Rees (Gorseinon) sang as a solo "O, na bawn i fel Efe", and the congregation heartily joined in the refrain. Miss Rees, having got the people into a musical "hwyl" in Welsh, varied her language, and gave an excellent rendering of "Over the river", the audience again joining very warmly in the refrain – "Looking this way, yes looking this way: Loved ones are waiting, looking this way Fair as the morning, bright as the day - Dear ones in glory, looking this way." While Mr Roberts was making his usual invitation to his hearers to respond to the call of the Spirit, Miss Rees sang – "Mae'n edrych am danat ti'n awr (He is looking for thee now) and subsequently went on singing to the tune of the "Lost Rose of Summer", the hymn – "Dryma Peibl anwyl Iesu" and for the first time in connection with these gatherings the audience promptly joined in singing the "repeat" of the last four lines, for now that it has become understood that it can be sung to this well-known tune, there is every probability that it will "take" among the various audiences. When the "public confession" called for by Mr Evan Roberts began, there was a renewal of the scene enacted earlier in the evening: there were many on their feet at the same time, and when this work was in "full tide" there was a tremendous outburst of "Diolch iddo". The children broke out into their favourite – "Mae'r Etifeddiaeth i ni'n d'od Wrth Destament eim Tad" And the tune will be best known by all if I say it was the old music to which the English used to sing: "A little ship as on the sea" and the repetition of this charming little piece, sung from the hearts of so many, was the principal feature of the meeting. Suddenly some shouts, "Two saved her", and the "Diolch iddo" of the Welsh, and "Songs of Praise" of the English are instantly heard, coming simultaneously. Mr Evan Roberts afterwards left for Ferndale. From, 'The Western Mail', 9th December 1904. Come to Ynishir. A chapel is well filled with expectant people. They are singing Welsh hymns as they wait the coming of the missioner of whom they have heard so much, and whom they have never seen. Now and then some fervent church-member, who until Evan Roberts began to stir the churches went about his religious duties with little life or animation, prays in chanting monotone for the Spirit to descend upon this meeting, or quotes with gentle voice “The Lord is my Shepherd,” — I heard a dozen men do this at various meetings, — or rises to his feet and, one hand raised while the other covers his eyes, tells what God has done for him. They are singing again when Evan Roberts comes in quietly, listening with a happy smile on his lips to the swelling tide of melody. Up in the gallery there is a group of young people and children and unconsciously they are leading the singing with their fresh young voices. Roberts’ eyes, wandering keenly about the room and, to use a figure, shaking hands with every other pair of eyes they meet, light upon these enthusiastic children and his smile broadens. I could listen to such singing all night,” he declares when the fifth “repeat” has been finished. And again the music rises triumphantly. “Mae’r etifeddiaeth i ni’n d’od, Wrth Destament ein Tad.” A moment later the missioner is talking in his jerky, whole-hearted, inspiring way, with the hymn as a text, saying simple, pithy things that appeal strongly to the people before him. Suddenly he turns to the children in the gallery. “Will you go out into the streets of Ynishire and sing that hymn there as you have sung it here?” There is immediate and inspiring response. “If you will,” cries the missioner, his face alight, “the people here must be hard if they don’t yearn for Christ as they listen.” The meeting goes on. Miss Rees is talking in Welsh now, and singing in English that simple hymn, with its catching melody, in which all can join: “Looking this way, yes, looking this way, Loved ones are waiting, looking this way.” Now Mr Roberts is calling beseechingly to the people to stand up for God. “‘He that is not with me is against me.” Where do you, each of you, stand. Are you for Him or against Him. Be men and tell us.” No one could describe or explain how the climax has come, but here it is. Gradually the pool of human hearts has been stirred deeper and yet deeper, and now the flood of confession, of contrition, of penitence for the past, of aspiration for better things, bursts out in every part of the hall. There are men on their feet and women on their knees all about us, talking freely of what they have done, of what they have been, and of what they mean to do and be; or praying plaintively for forgiveness for themselves and for those who are dear to them. “Diolch Iddo,” “Thanks to Him,” rolls out a mighty chorus.

From, 'The Story of the Welsh Revival', by Arthur Goodrich.

Additional Information

I do not know in which chapel this meeting took place.

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