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I heard of old that Jesus,
Who still abides the same,
And sinners deep in shame.
Me also welcome in,
Forgetting all my sin.
The author of the hymn was Thomas Williams of Glamorganshire, born 1761; died 1844. He published a volume of hymns, Waters of Bethesda in 1823.
The Welsh minor tune of “Clwyd” may appropriately have been the music to express the contrite prayer of the words. The living composer, John Jones, has several tunes in the Welsh revival manual of melodies, Ail Attodiad.
The unparalled religious movement of 1904-5 was a praying and singing revival. The apostle and spiritual prompter of that unbroken campaign of Christian victories—so far as any single human agency counted—was Evan Roberts, of Laughor, a humble young worker in the mines, who had prayed thirteen years for a mighty descent of the heavenly blessing on his country and for a clear indication of his own mission. His convictions naturally led him to the ministry, and he went to Newcastle Emlyn to study. Evangelical work had been done by two societies, made up of earnest Christians, and known as the “Forward Movement” and the “Simultaneous Mission.” Begintheir efforts, appeared in the young people's prayer meetings in February, 1904, at New Quay, Cardiganshire. The interest increased, and when branchwork was organized a young praying and singing band visited Newcastle Emlyn in the course of one of their tours, and held a rally meeting. Evan Roberts went to the meeting and found his own mission. He left his studies and consecrated himself, soul and body, to revival work. In every spiritual and mental quality he was surpassingly well-equipped. To the quick sensibility of his poetic nature he added the inspiration of a seer and the zeal of a devotee. Like Moses, Elijah, and Paul in Arabian solitudes, and John in the Dead Sea wilds, he had prepared himself in silence and alone with God; and though, on occasion, he could use effectively his gift of words, he stood distinct in a land of matchless pulpit orators as “the silent leader.”. Without preaching he dominated the mood of his meetings, and without dictating he could change the trend of a service and shape the next song or prayer on the intuition of a moment. In fact, judged by its results, it was God Himself who directed the revival, only He endowed His minister with the power of divination to watch its progress and take the stumbling-blocks out of the way. By a kind of hallowed psychomancy, that humble man would detect a discordant presence, and hush the voices of a con. gregation till the stubborn soul felt God in the stillness, and penitently surrendered.
Many tones of the great awakening of 1859 were heard again in 1904-5,—the harvest season without a precedent, when men, women and children numbering ten per cent of the whole population of a province were gathered into the membership of the church of Christ But there were tones a century older heard in the devotions of that harvesthome in Wales. A New England Christian would have felt at home, with the tuneful assemblies at Laughor, Trencynon, Bangor, Bethesda, Wrexham, Cardiff, or Liverpool, singing Lowell Mason's “Meribah” or the clarion melody of Edson's “Lenox” to Wesley's
Blow ye the trumpet, blow,
The gladly solemn sound; - or to his other well-known
Arise my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears,
In thy behalf appear. In short, the food tide of 1904 and 1905 brought in very little new music and very few new hymns. “Aberystwyth” and “Tanymarian,” the minor harmonies of Joseph Parry and Stephens; E. M. Price's “St. Garmon;" R. M. Pritchard's, “Hyfrydol,” and a few others, were choral favorites, but their composers were all dead, and the congregations loved the still older singers who had found familiar welcome at their altars and firesides. The most cherished and oftenest chosen hymns were those of William Williams and Ann Griffiths, of Charles Wesley, of Isaac Watts—indeed the very tongues of fire that appeared at Jerusalem took on the Cymric speech, and sang the burning lyrics of the poet-saints. And in their revival joy Calvinistic Wales sang the New Testament with more of its Johannic than of its Pauline texts. The covenant of peace-Christ and His Cross-is the theme of all their hymns.
“HERE BEHOLD THE TENT OF MEETING."
Dyma Babell y cyfarfod. This hymn, written by Ann Griffiths, is entitled “Love Eternal,” and praises the Divine plan to satisfy the Law and at the same time save the sinner. The first stanza gives an idea of the thought:
Here behold the tent of meeting,
In the blood a peace with heaven,
For the sick a Healer given.
At the very Throne divine,
Still on him shall smile and shine.
"HOW SWEET THE COVENANT TO REMEMBER.»
Bydd melus gofio y cyfammod. This, entitled “Mysteries of Grace," is also from the pen of Ann Griffiths. It has the literalness noticeable in much of the Welsh religious poetry, and there is a note of pietism in it. The two last stanzas are these:
He is the great Propitiation
Who with the thieves that anguish bare;
To drive the nails that fixed Him there.
And made the Law in honor be,
And me the Covenant set free.
My soul, behold Him laid so lowly,
Of peace the Fount, of Kings the Head,
And He low-lying with the dead!
The marvel of heaven's seraphim,
The choir of heaven cries, "'Unto Him!”
Ann Griffiths' earliest hymn will be called her sweetest. Fortunately, too, it is more poetically translated. It was before the vivid consciousness and intensity of her religious experience had given her spiritual writings a more involved and mystical expression.
My soul, behold the fitness
Of this great Son of God,
And cast on Him thy load,
Of every human woe,