This was where the first signs of revival appeared which, through D L Moody spread over Scotland and a good part of England. He came to England with promises of money and ministry from three ministers, but when he arrived he found all three had just died. So he went to York because he had received a letter from the Y M C A secretary there. Nothing had been arranged when he arrived. Things were slow for the first ten days..
My dear Sir, - The following few notes of our brother D. L. Moody's evangelistic labours in this city will doubtless be welcomed by your readers.
On Sunday morning, June 22nd, Mr Moody preached in Salem Congregational Chapel to Christian workers in the afternoon in the Corn Exchange to about 1,000 persons; and in the evening in Wesley Chapel. Many were impressed and some brought to trust in the Saviour, Every evening the following week, Bible lectures were delivered in various chapels, each service resulting in the saving of souls, but especially in the quickening of believers. Formality and apathy are to a great extent dissipated, and Christians have been led to pray and work for the conversion of sinners.
During the past week, the Lord has greatly blessed us in the ingathering of souls. On Sabbath day June 29th Mr Moody preached in two other chapels and also twice in the Corn Exchange to audiences numbering about 1,000 each. Every
week-evening service is preceded by a service of song, conducted by Mr Moody's co-labourer, Mr Sankey, whose hymns, tunes, voice, etc., (like those of Philip Phillips) have drawn and impressed many. Mr Moody preaches the gospel and Mr Sankey sings the gospel. Prayer meetings have been held every noon at the rooms of the Young Men's Christian Association, and many there have offered themselves and others for the prayers of God's people.
Though this is the summer season, and we were under a disadvantage, in consequence (through the miscarriage of letters to
and from Mr Moody) of not having notice, and therefore were unprepared for the visit, (Mr Moody dropped down on us on
the Saturday morning, arrangements were made, and bills printed all in a few hours,) yet from the first the Lord has greatly blessed our brother's labours in the strengthening and stimulating of Christians and in the bringing of many out of darkness into light; their visit will long be remembered in this city. The congregations have from the first been increasingly
large, all denominations have opened their chapels and given us their presence and help, various of the clergy also heartily
bidding them "Godspeed,"
- I am, dear Sir, very truly yours,
July 5, 1873.
GEO. BENNETT, Hon. Sec., York Y.M.C.A.
P.S. Sunday evening 11 p.m., just before posting this, let me add that this afternoon a large chapel was filled to hear brother
Moody; a deep impression was made. I have just come from the evening service, where every aisle and standing place, even
the pulpit stairs, also the vestries and lobbies, were crowded nearly half an hour before the evening service commenced.
"The Christian", July, 1873.
On the second Wednesday, July 2nd, the movement broke surface. Moody spoke at the Wesleyan Chapel in the heart of the walled city. Bennett wrote: “the Holy Spirit’s powers mightily manifested and anxious souls were all over the building, in the body as well as in the gallery. The aged Superintendent of the Chapel seemed paralysed by astonishment, he could do nothing but weep for joy. That night had been the last of their invitation to the Wesleyan Chapel and they moved South of the Ouse to Priory Street just within the walls, to the new Baptist Chapel, its dark brown varnish still glossy, its imitation Early Decorated exterior bright and clean.
Moody had preached there the previous Sunday morning, his second in York. The starchy young minister, Frederick Brotherton Meyer, consulted by Bennett on Moody’s telegram, was puzzled as to what an evangelist did that he could not do himself, being correct in doctrine, painstaking in preaching, a most worthy young man; but with only the slightest curl of his classical nose he had invited Moody to his pulpit. He listened unmoved to the story of that dying Sunday school teacher in Chicago. But the woman who taught the senior girls’ class had been so gripped that she missed her midday dinner to pray. At teachers’ tea Meyer asked casually, ‘Well, Miss Lines, how have you got on this afternoon?’
‘Oh, I told that story again and I believe every one of my girls has given her heart to God!’
That had shaken Meyer, who now watched, night after night, his moderate sized Chapel, ‘vestries, lobbies and pulpit stairs crowded!’ And in the ministers' parlour at the close of each evening he saw subdued citizens of York seek the way of release.
Towards the end of his life, a leading Nonconformist in London, past president of the National Free Church Council, social reformer, preacher, author of 70 books of which, 5,000,000 copies circulated; F B Meyer declared of that mission in York, ‘For me it was the birthday of new conceptions of ministry, new methods of work, new inspirations and hope… I had been brought up in a holy home. I had been in business for a little, then took my degree at college, but I didn't know anything about conversion or about the gathering of sinners around Christ and I owe everything, everything in my life, I think, to that parlour room where the first time I found people broken-hearted about sin. I learned the psychology of the soul. I learned how to point men to God.
“Moody without Sankey,” by John Pollock, pages 116-7.