llenwi â’r Ysbryd Glân: The Welsh roots of Pentecostalism

The Revival's leader Evan Roberts

The Revival’s leader Evan Roberts

In the early twentieth century southern Wales experienced a religious revival that still shapes Pentecostalism and Wales.

It is probably folly to try and locate a single place where Pentecostalism began. The modern movement represents the convergence of a number of grouping that sprung up independently around the world. Nonetheless, if one were forced to choose such a point then Wales would be a strong contender.

Histories of Pentecostalism traditionally start with the Azuza Street Revival in Los Angles in 1906. However, this was predated, influenced and partially inspired by the Welsh Revival of 1904-5.

According to an Introduction to Pentecostalism by Allan Heaton Anderson:

The Welsh Revival (1904-5) was centred mainly among the Welsh-speaking mining community, where there were at least 32,000 converts throughout Wales, some putting this figure as 100,000. During this revival, the Pentecostal presence and power of the Holy Spirit was emphasised, and meetings were hours long, spontaneous, seemingly chaotic and emotional, with ‘singing in the Spirit’ (using ancient Welsh chants), simultaneous and loud prayer, revelatory visions and prophecy, all emphasising the immediacy of God in the services and in personal experience. Revival leader Evan Roberts (1878-1951) taught a personal experience of Holy Spirit baptism to precede any revival. The revival was declared to be the end-time Pentecost of Acts 2, the ‘latter rain’ promised by biblical prophets which would result in a worldwide revival. Charistmatic Baptist pastor in Los Angles Joseph Smale visited the Welsh Revival, and Frank Bartleman corresponded with Evan Roberts, asking for prayer for a similar revival in Los Angles. These and other contacts encouraged people to expect a revival there. Several early British Pentecostal leaders, including George Jeffreys, an early evangelist in the British Assemblies of God, and Daniel Williams, founder of the Apolistic Church, were converted in the Welsh Revival. The first leader of Pentecostalism in Britain, Anglican vicar Alexander Boddy, visited it. Although Evan Roberts, influenced by his mentor Jesse Penn-Lewis, later discouraged the use of tongues and ecstatic manifestations, and although Pentecostalism’s emphases were found in the radical and less common manifestations of the Welsh Revival, early Pentecostal leaders drew inspiration from the revival and saw their movement as the continuation of it. Interestingly, both movements made use of ancient cultural forms to express their experiences and liturgy, the Welsh Revival encouraging a resurgence of the Welsh language, particularly in the singing of hymns and chants.

3 thoughts on “llenwi â’r Ysbryd Glân: The Welsh roots of Pentecostalism

  1. Pingback: Music from the Welsh Mines – Rhos Male Voice Choir | The Cinch Review

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