One Century On


Jim van Heiningen

It was in 1904-05 that the country of Wales was ‘visited’ by

The Dayspring From On High.

Now that a hundred years went by, are there things we can still learn from that Great Revival?

Much has been written on the subject of “revival”. Untold “revivals” have been conducted by “revivalists”. Often man’s work was revived, not necessarily God’s work. Too frequently the revivalist has taken “center stage,” plus all the honor and glory coming with it. We may conveniently call such revivals “pseudo-revivals”, in the same sense as the New Testament speaks of pseudo-witnesses, pseudo-prophets, pseudo-teachers, etc.

But if there are pseudo-revivals, it follows there must be genuine revivals, of which those are at best an imitation.
Genuine revivals have a way of proving themselves, even generations later. (Your editor, being Dutch-and-all, is a 4th generation fruit of the Welsh revival.)

From “Rent Heavens – The Revival of 1904” by RB Jones:

image004Contemporary Evan H. Hopkins of ‘Keswick’ fame: “The revival is in some respects unlike those that have preceded it. God is showing us today what He can do, not so much through the individual missioner as through the whole company of believing people assembled together in his Name. We have been accustomed to the Holy Spirit’s working through the missioner, or evangelist, directly upon the unconverted. But what we are witnessing today is the same divine power working through the Church in its corporate capacity on those who are unsaved.”

Eye-witness John W. Ewing: “I was in Loughor, the home village of Evan Roberts, in the last week of 1904. There in the midst of his own people was the young student whom God had called to be the standard-bearer of the Revival movement. The chapel was thronged, the atmosphere tense. Evan Roberts spoke only a few words, but they were wise and gracious words and clothed with power. It did not seem as though the meeting depended on the human leader. There was guidance, but it was from the Unseen, as prayer followed prayer and bursts of song expressed the joy of souls in fellowship with God.”

“At a later meeting that week the scene was a large chapel in Clydach. The night was rainy and the roads muddy, but the place was packed; the only vacant place being in the pulpit. That night there was no visible leader. Yet the service went on for hours, with hymn, prayer, Scripture reading, testimony, following on another without a break. There was intense pleading with God for souls, and now and then a burst of praise as one and another yielded to the Gospel appeal.”

“The impression during that week was of the unique importance of the spiritual world. The things of earth seemed petty in comparison with the things of Heaven. In a spiritual war we were witnessing the victories of God. Christ, we felt, was in the midst, and his people, radiant and joyous, were transfigured with celestial light. This made an impression on the people outside, and they flocked to the gatherings, neglecting politics and the football field and finding in innumerable cases, the secret of a new life.”

Visitors: “Meetings began as soon as part of the congregation had assembled. There was no waiting for any human leader.” “Never,” writes one, “was there a religious movement so little indebted to the guiding brain of its leaders. It seems to be going ‘on its own’. There is no commanding human genius inspiring the advance… In South Wales the leading role is taken by the third Person of the Trinity.”
“Those called leaders, as a rule, entered when the meetings were already in full swing; incidentally, a very clear proof that the Spirit’s working was not in any degree dependent upon them.”

Magazine reporter of The Life of Faith of November 30, 1904: “My… impression is that the revival is not inseparably connected with the personality of an individual human being. The revivalist is not an eloquent man, neither is he a learned man, nor even, as far as I could judge, a man of strong mental abilities… This seems to be another object-lesson to Wales that the light and the influence came from God, and not from man.”

Commentator: “It is right to add that the Revivalist himself was extraordinarily careful that it should not be thought that the work depended upon him. He soon decided that his movements must not be announced beforehand. ‘People must not rely on me,’ was his constant cry. ‘I have nothing for them. They must rely on him who alone can minister to their needs.’”

“As to others, so also to ministers, it was a most searching time, and many who should have been leaders found themselves outstripped spiritually by their own members. The light that shone so brightly brought everything to view, and lack of spirituality or of orthodoxy would instantly be detected did one attempt to preach or teach. There was an intense hunger for the Word, and the awakened ones could not tolerate anything but the Word, and that too spoken by those who had had personal experience of its power in their own hearts and lives. Herein, perhaps, lies one reason why a proportion of ministers failed to appreciate and support the mighty work.”

From “The New Testament Order for Church and Missionary”:

Missionary/Author Alex Hay: “In times of revival, when the Holy Spirit has been working with freedom, his gifts have reappeared. Campbell Morgan describes what took place in the Welsh Revival in 1904: ‘There were the organs, but silent; the ministers, but among the people, rejoicing and prophesying with the rest, only there was no preaching. Yet the Welsh Revival is the revival of preaching in Wales, everybody is preaching. No order, yet it moves from day to day, week to week, county to county, with matchless precision, with the order of an attacking force.’”

“An interesting outcome of the great revival in Wales was the establishment of many congregations that instinctively adopted the New Testament form. In the established churches at the time it was considered presumption to claim assurance of salvation. Those who were converted in the revival had unshakable assurance of salvation and, also, they were filled with the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit for public testimony were manifested through them. Not being permitted to exercise their gifts in the existing churches, they built halls where they could meet and have freedom to pray, preach and testify. They did not intend to withdraw from their churches, but soon found that they were no longer welcome in them, so they formed themselves into congregations, each presided over by several elders.”

First century pointer for our day:


Many have wondered why the Welsh revival eventually dried up. If that is your question, then you may discover the answer in Jesus’ parable about the wineskins – see the appendix to Dear Pastor…’ Clickhere.


Rev. 22:17