Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Raw Material for Revival in Wales
(Taken from With Christ Among the Miners by Howell Elvet Lewis, 1906)
PRAYER MEETINGS AND SOCIETIES
One never hears in Welsh Wales of “the week-evening address.” It is observed in some of the English churches; otherwise it is unknown. Prayer meetings are an essential part of the church’s syllabus, not infrequently even taking the place of the morning or evening service on Sundays. If the expected preacher does not make his appearance, there is no nervous disturbance. Without any ado, a prayer meeting is held, as if all had been prearranged. Not only so, but in country districts especially, the pilgrim prayer-meeting is an old and honoured institution. This means that the meeting passes in circuit from house to house - the cottage of the labourer as well as the free-holders farmstead - week by week. The present writer owes more than he can tell to the Tuesday evening prayer meeting of the neighbourhood where he was brought up, circulating in this fashion from house to house. Young and old were invited and helped to take part. Many of the efforts were very humble, but it was the common people's academy of devotion, where a Thomas a Kempis would have felt at home. Nor should we omit to mention that the missionary prayer-meeting on the first Monday of each month is still largely observed in Wales.
The “Society,” born of the Methodist Revival of the eighteenth century, is almost as universal as the prayer meeting. To conduct it is an art in itself. Sometimes a theme is started - perhaps from the preceding Sundays sermon - and each in turn has a chance of contributing, either an exposition or an experience, or at least a text or a hymn. If the Christian Endeavour movement has not flourished among Welsh churches, it is because the society meeting had in part prevented it - to use the biblical phrase. It is the Methodist class meeting modified, freely adapted to the genius of the race... (comment is passed on revivals of 1829, 1839, 1849 and then...)
The revival of 1859-60 was more world wide, taking Wales on its way. It had already accomplished great things in America when a Wesleyan Methodist preacher, the Rev. Humphrey Jones, returning home to Wales, and to his native village – Tre’rddol, North Cardiganshire - began to hold mission services early in 1858. The birth of a revival seems always to be in some sequestered nook, to be nursed for weeks among the silence of the hills, or in some creek beside the sea. The fire spread from hamlet to hamlet, and to the larger towns it was only a report for months. The young Welshman from America found a comrade in the Rev. David Morgan, Calvinistic Methodist preacher. They preached prayer; they practiced it; they seemed to compel it. There was no special gift in either to mark them out for the work which God had called them to do. The health of the former broke down; the latter retired into the rank of ordinary preachers after the season of blessing. But during Gods season, they swept every audience into prayer. The churches of all denominations were moved to the core; very few districts were left unvisited by the power, but there were some. It bequeathed a blessing and a memory which lasted until 1904-5 came to take its place in the nations living heart.