Bontuchel and Rhuthun in 1819 and following years.It began in a prayer-meeting that was regularly held on the first Monday night of the month.The prayer meeting was held at a house in Cyffylliog. As a verse of one of Pantycelyn’s hymns was sung it was repeated over and over again. Scenes of disordered rejoicing followed. The following week, also in a prayer meeting, but this time in the chapel at Bontuchel, a similar train of events ensued, occasioned by a different hymn of Pantycelyn’s. Pierce Owen reports as follows:
News of it spread like wild fire over a wide area. At the time there was an uncommon power on the sermons; there was a new spirit to the prayers; and a different melody in the singing. The experiences of the aged were renewed; backslidden believers were restored; wild men of the neighbourhood were taken; and such a sudden and thorough turn in them produced a wonderful astonishment in all, and fear in some. There were now but few houses in the neighbourhood where there was not family worship; and the dignity of religion was acknowledged by all the region. There was the sound of singing along the fields; in the cowsheds; by the wells; and along the roads. There was a different form to the gatherings at the blacksmith, or at the mill door. There was another form to the young men in the stable with the horses, and out in the loft, where they used to sleep. Seriousness sat on every face; decency bridled every tongue; sobriety beautified every impulse.
Some doubted the nature of the visitation, including several of the elders of neighbouring congregations, and they frowned upon it until they went to a few of the meetings and were overcome themselves. There was rejoicing even in the homes while they conducted family worship. After one meeting at Rhuthun the preacher, John Davies, Nantglyn, had a remarkable experience as he went home in the evening:
It was a night he would remember. The sound of prayer and praise of the people of Rhuthyn was in his ears as he went over the Collegfa. Then he came within reach of the sound of song and rejoicing of the saints of Bont Uchel; and as he went on he rejoiced also, on his own, along the way, until he reached Carreg y Gad, where the strains of the people of Llanrhaiadr greeted him, and that was until he reached Cefn Main, and as the wind changed the voice of rejoicing from the direction of Nantglyn met him. He had never travelled the way with more of a heavenly zest than this time. Heaven all the way was this journey to him.
John Hughes’s account in MC, iii, pp. 153-4 gives the date as ‘about 1821’. The fullest account is J. Davies, Salford, ‘Adgofion am y Bont Uchel, Sir Dinbych’, Drys, lvi (1886), pp. 415-8, in which the date is 1819. The account given in Pierce Owen, Hanes Methodistiaeth Dyffryn Clwyd: Dosbarth Rhuthyn (O’r Dechreu hyd Ddiwedd y Flwyddyn 1915) (n.p.: Cyfarfod Misol Dyffryn Clwyd, 1921), pp. 52-58 is based on Davies, but he gives the date as 1821. Elsewhere in the volume, he confusingly refers to a number of different dates: 1819 (p. 1) and 1820 (p. 75).
The particular month is not known.
MC, iii, p. 153.
Owen, Meth. Dyffryn Clwyd, p. 1.
About the year 1821, in a prayer-meeting on the first Monday night of the month, a powerful revival began at Bontuchel and regions. The prayer-meeting was held in a dwelling house in Cyffylliog, and as an old verse of Pantycelyn's was sung the awakening began. Nobody sings it now -
Duw, os wyt am ddibennu'r byd, If Thou would'st end the world, O Lord
Cyflawna'n gynta'th Air i gyd, Accomplish first Thy promised word,
Dy etholedig galw 'nghyd And gather home with one accord
O gwmpas daear fawr; From every part Thine own;
Aed sain Efengyl i bob gwlad, Send out Thy word from pole to pole,
A golch fyrddiynau yn dy waed, And with Thy blood make thousands whole,
A dyro iddynt wir iachad - Till health has come to every soul,
Ac yna tyrd i lawr. And after that - come down! [God, if thou wouldst end the world, first altogether fulfil thy Word, call together thine elect from around the wide earth; send the sound of the Gospel to every land, and wash myriads in thy blood, and give them true healing - and then come down.] As the verse was sung over and over again, Cathrin Jones, Ty'n-y-ffordd, broke out shouting, and it went like wildfire through the place.
The next week, in the chapel at Bont, in a prayer-meeting, another old verse of Pantycelyn's was given out -
Pwy yno fydd Blaenor y gân. Who there will be the leader of the song?
Ai Dafydd, neu Moses, neu pwy? Will it be David, or Moses, or who?
Ai'r llanciau fu 'nghanol y tân, The youths who were in the midst of the fire,
Hen Abram, neu rhywun sydd fyw? Old Abram, or someone alive?
Ond prin y gall Blaenor y gân But scarce will the leader of the song be able
I seinio un sillaf ond un, To sound one syllable but one,
Na bydd yr holl nefoedd yn lân The whole of heaven will not purely
Yn moli fy Iesu'n gytûn. Praise my Jesus together. As the old verse was sung, John Jones, Hengoed, broke out fervently rejoicing so that it went boiling through the whole congregation. And that was the start of the revival in Bontuchel. "News of it travelled far, and its influence was powerfully felt in the neighbourhood. At the time the preaching was with power, the prayers with the touch of heaven, the singing of praise like the singing of angels, the experience of the church with unction, backsliders ran back, wild men were tamed by grace. There was hardly any house in the region that did not have family worship. The sound of singing would be heard in the fields, in the cowsheds, at the well, and along the road. The region was altogether a heavenly song. The gatherings at the smith had changed their tune/one; and not the same language that was heard in the mill. The out-lofts [lofts above the out-house often used as accommodation for farm workers] became places of worship, before going to sleep; and the servant was seen praying before beginning their work."
Some doubted the nature of the visitation, and they frowned upon it until some drops fell on them. The old elder, Robert Llwyd of Ruthin was doubtful, but he happened to experience things for himself. He and two friends went to the seiat in Bontuchel, and they were given a great welcome. They found themselves in a new atmosphere, and their hearts were touched with the fervency of the meeting. Robert Llwyd was asked to close the meeting with prayer. The old brother well knew the way to the Throne of Grace, and it was not long before he got a hold of it. Scores broke out rejoicing, and the end of the seiat became the start of a prayer-meeting. "Some in the church were saved without believing, and others came in, holding tightly in Jesus."
The revival continued for some years, and there would be rejoicing in the homes during family worship. In one family, in the family worship, the Psalm containing the following words was read: "I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." [Psalm 139:14] "My soul knoweth, my soul knoweth that right well," said the maid; "blessed be the name of the Lord; glory to his name. Hallelujah!" "Glory", said the woman of the house, and by then the place was aflame. Everyone went out of the house and went along to the chapel, about two or three miles away. The singing along the road was like a bell calling the faithful to the house of God, and by the time they reached the chapel the place was full.
It was a very general revival and touched the hearts of young and old alike, men and women There is the wonderful account of Cadws Jones' son. He would rejoice as loudly as any, and old Simon Llwyd would carry him on his shoulders in the chapel so that everyone could hear him. His words would have a wonderful effect on the people, and when he grew up he was very useful to the cause throughout his life. It was general with regard to location. The rejoicing was not confined to the chapel but occurred in the houses and fields. Conversation would be about religion, and very often the conversation would turn to rejoicing and the rejoicing to worship. Thomas Jones, Cae Efa, was cutting corn one day, and as he was thinking of the plan of salvation, and of heaven, he was moved in his spirit. He cast aside his scythe and began to sing joyfully the old verse -
Galaru'r wyf mewn dyffryn du I mourn in a dark valley
Wrth deithio i dy fy nhad; As I travel to my Father's house;
Ar ben y bryniau'n llawenhau On the top of the hills rejoicing
Wrth weld cyrrau'r wlad: As I see the borders of the land:
'R wy'n ddu fy lliw, a'm gwisg yn wen, I am black in colour, and my raiment white,
'R wy'n llawen ac yn brudd; I rejoice and am sad;
'R wy'n agos iawn, ac eto 'mhell, I am very near, and yet far away,
'R wy'n waeth, 'r wy'n well bob dydd. I am worse, I am better each day. It is said of one enthusiastic brother that he saw a preacher one day in poor clothes; he took off his best clothes to give to the preacher. Most amazingly it was mainly Old Testament Scriptures that were used as themes for their rejoicing. This, it is likely, was one of the characteristics of the Beddgelert revival. But no doubt it was the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament that produced the rejoicing. It is said that Isaac Watts, as he turned the Psalms into metrical verse, baptised them into the Christian faith. So also would the old godly people; they understood everything in the Old Testament in terms of the New Testament and went along every path directly to the cross and the Man who was crucified on it for the sin of the world.’ [GMR? or Drys. 1886, pp.415-8?; MC iii. 154 [NB 1821]; Hanes Meth. Dyffryn Clwyd, pp.1, 52-8]
This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones
Would you please contact us if you know where these meetings took place?