In 1904 to 1905 there was a great revival in Wales, connected with the preaching of a young Evan Roberts and widely reported in the press. New converts by the thousands were reported, as were the falling rates of conviction for drunkenness through South Wales. It was even said that when the miners gave up swearing their pit ponies no longer recognised their commands! What a great move of God!
Roberts did not travel alone, but from early on he was accompanied by a small group of singers. Before the services, these women would go around the local pubs to help drum up a crowd. The best known of this little choir was Annie Davies, and her story is connected with what came known as “the love song of the revival”
The eighteen year old daughter of a coal miner, young Annie had heard that Evan Roberts was coming to preach. She queued for hours to get into the chapel, and as the welshman came towards the end of his sermon he issued the call: those who love Christ - stand!
But Annie didn’t. In her words, “conscience spoke very loudly to me, it told me that I had betrayed my Saviour … I tried to sleep and forget all about the meetings but found it impossible to do so … I had to find peace or die”.
At the next meeting there she was again, greatly moved. Again, we have her memory: “the Rev. David Hughes asked me and said, ‘Canu rhywbeth, Annie’ (sing something Annie). With an irresistible force I leapt from my seat and sang ‘Here is love vast as the ocean’ to the tune ‘Britain’s Lament’. I could not finish it as I was sobbing too much, I could not refrain from weeping throughout the meeting”.
When we read the words of this old hymn, perhaps we can sense something of the release of a young woman who no longer was betraying her saviour:
Here is love vast as the ocean
Loving kindness as the flood
When the Prince of life, our ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heaven’s eternal days
On the Mount of Crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love