Moody Revival 1873-5


This is often known as the D L Moody revival, which is not surprising as he was the man around whom much of the revival broke out. However, it is misleading to give it this title, because God was on the move before Moody arrived in the UK and it spread way beyond the places he visited.

Dwight Lyman Moody was born in 1837 in Northfield, Massachusetts, into a Unitarian family. In 1854 he was fed up with country life and one day made an instant decision that he would go into some business or other in Boston; so he packed his bags and left. One of his uncles offered him a job in his shoe business on the understanding that he would do as he was told and would go to church and Sunday school. He was not happy with the usual ways of selling, so he would knock on people's doors and speak to people in the street to sell his wares. With a keen perception and irrepressible energy he was very successful, becoming one of his uncle's best salesmen. 

As per his promise, Moody joined a lively Congregational church and a Sunday school. As there was only one Bible at home he hardly ever studied it, but now he developed a great love for reading the Bible and his class teacher started to lead him closer to Jesus. After a while, his teacher thought the time was right for Moody to accept Jesus as his Saviour, so he went to visit him at the shoe shop - he simply told Moody how much Christ loved him and what love He expected in return and that was it - Moody was born again and his life would never be the same. Suddenly, his life was full of joy and light. 

He spent two more years in Boston, but his enthusiasm and ideas were ignored by both the church and his uncle; they just could not see his potential, so he left to be part of the opening up of Chicago. 

Soon after he arrived in Chicago Moody got deeply involved in a large revival that was going on there. This would have been his first experience of one and I suspect that it made him want to experience many more. 


His indomitable energy made him want to be busy all the time, so he occupied his Sunday afternoons by taking up Sunday school work. He discovered a small mission Sunday school and applied to lead a class, however, at the time they had more teachers than they required, so he was told that he would be welcome if he provided his own class. On the following Sunday, he arrived at the school leading a procession of 18 little “hoodlums”  that he had gathered. This immediate success made him realise that he had a real gift in this area, so he set about gathering new scholars for other teachers. 

In the autumn of 1858, Moody set out to start another mission school on a larger scale in another part of the city. He was equally successful and it was soon necessary to get a large hall to accommodate all the children that he had gathered. This work later developed into the Illinois Street Church. The Sunday school grew to 600 people which included parents of the children that Moody had reached out to. The work began to demand more of his time than he was able to give as he was away so much as a commercial traveller in the shoe business. He had moved to a wholesale boot and shoe business where he worked on commission, enabling him to spend time on his Christian work without encroaching upon his employer's rights.

By 1860 Moody had saved $7,000 towards the enormous sum of $100,000 that he was aiming to accumulate. However, his ambitions to earn a fortune were soon to change.  His Christian work on the surface was prospering as he could gather up to 1,500 people on a Sunday, but he realised that although they were there to hear the Bible taught, none of them were actually converted. Then one day something happened that changed everything. 

There was a class of young girls in the school who were very badly behaved and frivolous and then one day their teacher came to Moody's store to tell him that he had had a haemorrhage in his lungs and the doctor said that he could not live on lake Michigan any longer and that it was likely that he would soon die. He explained that he was extremely troubled because he had never led any of his class to Christ. Moody suggested that he went to visit each one of the class and tell them how he felt and he agreed to go with him from house to house. He spoke to the first young lady about the state of her soul and soon tears were welling up. He asked Moody if he would pray for her, something he'd never done before. But they prayed and the girl gave her life to Christ. They went to other houses and it wasn't long before each one broke down and sought salvation. At the end of 10 days, he came to Moody’s store And with a shining face, told him that the last of his class had given her life to Christ.

Moody wrote, ”He had to leave the next night, so I called his class together that night for a prayer meeting and there God kindled a fire in my soul that has never gone out. The height of my ambition had been to be a successful merchant and if I had known that meeting was going to take that ambition out of me, I might not have gone. But how many times I have thanked God since for that meeting! The dying teacher sat in the midst of his class and talked with them and read the 14th chapter of John. We knelt to pray and I was just rising from my knees when one of the class began to pray for her dying teacher. Another prayed and another, before we rose the whole class had prayed.”

The next evening he went to the train station to say goodbye to the teacher and without prearrangement each one of the class came to say goodbye. The last they saw of the teacher was his finger pointing upward, telling the class to meet him in heaven.

Moody decided to leave his business and go into full-time ministry, living off his savings for as long as they would last. He believed that if his ministry bore fruit then the Lord would provide the finances required once his savings had run out. He immediately radically reduced his outgoings so that his savings would last as long as possible and he began life as an evangelist.

Soon after this, in 1861, the American Civil War broke out. Moody did not join up because he could never kill anybody. He had been a member of the Young Men's Christian Association since 1854 and, with two others, he formed a branch of this organisation, the Army and Navy committee, at the start of the war. Part of its work was holding services for soldiers who passed through Chicago; as part of this, a small temporary Chapel was erected which held over 1,500 meetings. After a while the Union soldiers left the camp and Confederate prisoners took their place. Moody and a friend went in to hold a service and the Presence of God fell, impacting dozens of the prisoners – many were converted over the next two or three weeks.

Moody visited the front lines many times during the Civil War. The work of his Committee was to; arrange for the preaching of the gospel to anybody who would listen, place a Young Men's Christian Association tent within reach of every regiment, distribute free Bibles, hymn books et cetera and visit the sick and wounded in hospitals. They ministered to Union and Confederate soldiers alike. Meetings were held everywhere and many a camp became the scene of a deep and effective revival.

At the close of the war in 1865 Moody returned to Chicago and Sunday School work. His mission school in Chicago was a revelation. People came from all around to see how it worked and copied it. If the mission school movement did not originate with Moody, it received a great impulse from him. He popularised it and gave it strength and momentum. He used novel methods to fill his schools, using oranges and candy to draw them in, even offering a squirrel in its cage to anyone who would bring in the largest number of students within a specified time. He was also inventive in his efforts to keep them in the school. He looked after them, visiting their homes if they did not appear at the school and he took such a warm and practical interest in them that they became devotedly attached to him.

Moody began holding conferences to tell people about his methods and experiences in his Sunday school work. Thousands would come to his conferences. Illinois State put their weight behind his work and then other States wanted to copy what he was doing. At the second State convention Moody and some friends set up services for the delegates and a revival began with many being converted and these delegates then took their new faith back to their hometowns. Moody’s name was becoming more well known and he was getting invitations to preach in different places, particularly when there was a convention and often a revival would break out. 

Moody was a huge supporter of the Young Men's Christian Association and he believed they had done more for developing him for Christian work than any other body. As secretary and for several years as president, he worked hard to build up the organisation in Chicago. A permanent result of the great revival was the daily noon prayer meeting which Moody strongly supported and sometimes lead. As the Association grew there was a great need for their own building and he was a leading light in making this happen. The building was able to host 3,000 people, But sadly, within four months of its dedication the hall burned down and it was only partly insured. Again Moody was at the centre of raising money for a new hall and almost before the old building stopped burning, money was raised to build a new hall. It opened in 1868 but it suffered the same fate as its predecessor, burning down in the great Chicago fire of 1871. 

In 1867 there was a YMCA convention in Pittsburgh and again a significant revival broke out. Moody used his gifts to further the Association’s work there, he used his foresight, energy and organisational ability to create a Young Women's Christian Association. 

Moody was an evangelist through and through. He would stand in the streets inviting passersby to come to the noonday prayer meeting. During the summer months, he would be seen outside every night preaching in the streets. He would visit prisoners and the sick.

At the Indianapolis YMCA convention in 1870 Moody first met Ira Sankey. He was leading an early morning prayer meeting when there seemed to be difficulty in getting people to sing and Sankey filled in the gap, leading the congregation in singing. On being introduced to Sankey, Moody told him that he would have to give up whatever he was doing because he was just the person that he had been looking for to help me in his work in Chicago. Sankey was not sure and said he would pray about it, but the next day Moody invited him to a street corner to help with an open-air service. Sankey wrote, “The address that evening was one as powerful I had ever heard. The crowd stood spellbound at the burning words and many a tear was brushed away from the eyes of the men as they looked up into the speaker’s honest face.” Some months later Sankey agreed to go to Chicago for a week and promised to make a decision at the end of his visit. After the visit, Sankey gave up his business and went to join Moody in Chicago at the Illinois Street Church.


Moody came into contact with many different preachers including those from abroad and he heard much about the way the English worked and decided it would be beneficial to go and observe first-hand what he had been told. So in 1867, he set off for England. His main purpose of going was to meet Spurgeon and Mueller who he had heard so much about. In London he went to the YMCA in Aldersgate St where he suggested the establishment of a noon prayer meeting. There were nearly 100 men at the first one of these and the numbers continued to increase until there was a daily attendance of from 2 to 300. Moody spoke on his experiences of gospel work in Chicago which were unique and original and elicited thrilling interest. The noon prayer meetings began to spread across the country; an important aspect was that all denominations were welcomed.

Having been in the UK for three months a farewell reception was given for Moody and his wife. One of the speakers said, ”Few men who have visited a foreign shore have endeared themselves to so many hearts in so short a time, or with an unknown name and without letters of commendation won their way so deeply into the affections of a multitude of Christian brethren as had Mr Moody. Few had ever heard of him before, but having talked with him or heard him speak of Jesus, asked for no other warrant to yield him a large measure of their love.” Clearly, Moody’s time in The United Kingdom walls effective and it must be remembered that he was not an ordained pastor.

 During a brief visit to Ireland, Moody casually met Henry Moorehouse, who expressed a wish to come to Chicago and preach at Moody's church. Moorehouse looked very young and Moody thought that such a young person would not be able to preach effectively, so he sort of ignored him. A few weeks later Moorehouse arrived in America and wrote to Moody asking if he could come and preach for him. Moody’s response was cold, but this did not put Moorehouse off and eventually he wrote to Moody telling him that he was going to be coming to Chicago and asked again if he could preach for him. Moody was going to be out of town for two days and so he told his leaders that he could try him out on the Thursday evening service.

On returning to Chicago Moody asked his wife what she thought of the young Englishman. She said that she liked him very much but he preache differently from Moody in that he told the worst sinners that God loves them. Moody said that he was wrong but his wife said that if he listened to Moorehouse preach he would agree with him.  Moody was amazed when he heard the young man preach. He gave chapter and verse to prove every statement he made. Instead of dividing his text into secondly, thirdly, and fourthly; He took the whole verse and went through the Bible to prove that in all ages God loved the world. Moorehouse preached for six nights in a row on John 3:16 and then on the 7th night he preached it again saying that he couldn't find any better verse in the Bible to preach from. Moorhouse's visit changed Moody's thinking and preaching. The two evangelists were to work together many times in the future.


In 1871 the weather was extremely hot in Chicago and Moody found it difficult to get people to come to church. He had the idea of doing a series of talks on major characters in the Bible and by the 5th week, he had a large congregation. When it came time to preach on Jesus he decided to devote 6 nights to His life. On the 5th Sunday night, he preached to the largest congregation he had ever addressed in Chicago. After preaching he told his congregation, " I wish you would take this text home with you and turn it over in your minds during the week and next Sabbath we will come to Calvary and the Cross and we will decide what to do with Jesus of Nazareth.” He was giving the congregation a week to think about salvation, but this was a big mistake because before the next Sunday there was the Great Chicago Fire and his congregation never came together again. It was because of this that Moody decided that he must make people decide for Christ then and there whenever he preached.

1871 was an important year for Moody for another reason. Two women used to attend his meetings and sit in the front row and he noticed that they were praying during the service. They told him that they were praying for him to have the power of Holy Spirit. Moody thought that he already had power, he had the largest congregation in Chicago and there were many conversions. However, something about the women made him invite them to come and see him and to say what they meant. They told him that they wanted him to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit and as they said that he felt a great hunger come into him and he became desperate to be filled with Holy Spirit.

After the fire Moody quickly went East to raise money for the homeless and for a new church. He quickly raised enough money and just 2 1/2 months after the fire, the North Side Tabernacle was dedicated. During all his time in the East he was calling out to God to be filled with Holy Spirit, until one day when he was in New York, “I can only say that God revealed Himself to me and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand." His preaching did not seem to change but hundreds were converted. This was the Baptism of Holy Spirit and Fire.

Wanting to learn more of the Bible from English Bible students, Moody decided to visit England again for a short trip in June 1872. He was determined while there not to work as he was there to study, but at the close of a prayer meeting the Rev Mr Lessey, pastor of a Congregational Church in North London, asked him to preach there the next Sunday and he agreed. The morning service seemed very dead and cold but at the 6:30 pm service it seemed that the very atmosphere was charged with the Spirit of God. When he finished preaching he asked that anybody who wanted to become a Christian should stand up and people rose all over the church until it seemed that everyone was standing on their feet. Moody felt that they hadn't understood him so he asked those who wanted to become Christians just to go to the inquiry room. The room became so crowded that they needed extra chairs to seat them all. Both he and the minister were surprised, neither had expected this to happen. The next day he went to Dublin but on the Tuesday morning he received a note urging him to return as Lessie wrote that there were more inquirers on Monday than on Sunday. So Moody returned and held meetings for 10 days and 400 joined the church.

There were two sisters who were part of the church; One of them was bedridden and at some point she realised that she could at least pray for the church to be revived, so she did so. She then read a newspaper account of some of Moody's meetings in America and she began to pray that God would send him to their church. She realised that God had answered her prayers when her sister returned from church to tell her that Moody had been there preaching.


During his visit, Moody went to the Mildmay conference and met its founder, the Rev William Pennefather. He was really impressed with the Reverend's holiness and believed that he got an impetus from that meeting that he never lost. Pennefather was also struck by Moody, believing that he was one for whom God had prepared a great work, and after his return to America, he wrote to him saying that there was a wide-open door for evangelistic work in London and promised him a warm welcome if he could ever return. Similar invitations were received from Cuthbert Bainbridge of Newcastle and Henry Bewley of Dublin. These invitations included a promise of funds to meet his expenses and those of his party.

Receiving these invitations, Moody decided to accept them and make another short visit to England. A close friend of his was Phillip Phillips who was the leading gospel singer in America at that time, and he asked him if he would join him on the trip, but he was unable to do so. He then asked P P Bliss who also could not come. The original idea was to leave Ira Sankey in Chicago to continue the work in the mission church and the Association, but he then decided that it was important for Ira Sankey to go with him to England. All the expenses were to be paid for, but just a couple of days before saiIing with his family and Sankey no money had arrived to pay for the sea passage, so Moody had to use all his savings to purchase the tickets.


They reached Liverpool on June 17th, 1873 where a letter was waiting for him to tell him the sad news that all three of the leaders who had invited him to England had died, which explained why no funds had arrived. Moody said to Sankey that God seemed to have closed the door and they would return to America unless He opened a new one. On arriving at their hotel Moody found an unopened letter that he had received before sailing from New York, from the secretary (George Bennett) of the Young Men's Christian Association, at York. The letter said that he hoped he would get in touch if he ever came to England and speak at the Association. Moody did not consider this a fully open door but a nudge to go to York, so he sent a communication to Bennett to say that he was coming to York to begin some meetings. The next day Moody and his family took a train for London and Sankey went to Manchester to meet Henry Moorehouse. Bennett responded by saying that York was cold and dead and that it would take at least a month to prepare for a mission. Moody replied that he would be in York that night.

Moody, leaving his family with a relative in London, arrived that night and after scrutinising the situation, decided to go ahead with some meetings and telegraphed Sankey to come to York. The next morning they asked for local pastors to provide a pulpit for that Sunday and two Wesleyan, a Baptist and a Congregational Church were put at his disposal.

His first meeting that Sunday was at the Salem Congregational Church and as was his custom throughout the two-plus years of his stay the first meeting was for Christian workers so that he could tell them of his plans and get them fired up to pray and to work for the conversion of sinners. In the evening he preached in the Wesleyan Chapel and every evening the following week he gave Bible teaching in various chapels. Each evening some people were saved but the greater fruit was in the churchgoers who were impacted by what he said and by Holy Spirit. Bennett reported that the Lord had greatly blessed them with salvations during the second week and that every evening service during the week was preceded by a service of singing led by Sankey. People were very taken by Sankey’s hymns, tunes and voice and he observed that Moody preached the gospel and Sankey sang the gospel. This is an important point in that Sankey’s music was generally not about praising and worshipping the Lord but teaching the gospel, which was an important aspect of the evangelisation of the masses.

Despite there having been no notice at all the meetings were reasonably successful. Moody actually arrived on the Friday night so there was only one day to get everything organised. There was little unity. The Congregational Church was offered because the minister was away and the Baptist church was given grudgingly. Over the days the numbers grew until the medium-sized, new Baptist Church was jammed with people (Obviously this could not happen today with health and safety). Although there was only limited success in York, there was some fruit that lasted many years and blessed many people. The young Baptist minister was somewhat bemused and unmoved by Moody's preaching, but a teacher wasn't. She listened to Moody relate the story of the dying Sunday School teacher and was mightily impacted. She told the story to her senior girl's class and believed that every one of her class gave their hearts to the Lord. This shook the minister and from then on he watched closely, night after night, what was going on. The minister's name was the famous F B Meyer, who went on to write 70 books, selling 5 million copies. He later wrote that he owed everything to the times in his parlour when he watched people coming to Christ and where he learned about conversion for the first time.

So, an awakening had begun, an awakening that people often refer to as D L Moody's, but is that correct? God was powerfully moving in Catherine Booth's meetings in Southsea in March of that year, Berwick in April and later on in Nottingham and also there was a  widespread awakening in the West of Cornwall and the Salvation Army was doing a lot of work in London. Now this is not overwhelming proof that Moody only tapped into what was already happening in the UK, but history shows that large revivals/awakenings do not begin with an evangelist; he/she recognises the season and then acts as God's messenger and lights the fire. I believe that most pastors do not recognise the 'seasons', but evangelists do, or by the nature of their work they automatically tap into God's plans and purposes whenever He is hovering over the land. I have been wondering if in fact the Awakenings of 1859-64 and 1873-5, together with the amazing expansion of the Salvation Army, 1878-84 was actually one big Awakening. 

I read some evidence to support this in a report by the Free Church on the Moody meetings, published in "Times of Blessing," May 18th, 1874. "Not that these things were altogether unknown among us in years past. What has taken place this year is no new thing, but just a more abundant and extensive manifestation of what we have been witnessing for some years. And during the years some congregations and localities have enjoyed repeated seasons of revival and refreshing." The reference of 'some years' could cover the ten years or so since the earlier awakening.

The paucity of reports is a result of the fact that Anglicans seldom seem to make them; for whatever reason and they were by far the largest denomination at this time. However, the Methodists and evangelists loved sending in reports to the weekly 'Revival/Christian'   


Their next stop was Sunderland.  The minister who invited Moody had shared a room with him on an earlier visit to England and had been very impressed by him. In 1875 he wrote that, looking back, the meetings in Sunderland were not nearly as successful as elsewhere. He said that only a handful attended the noon prayer meetings, compared with thousands elsewhere. He put it down to a lack of unity in the town, with only two or three ministers co-operating and he inferred that a minister in the town was working against the mission. They were there for about 6 weeks.

The pastor describes him, "He is not eloquent, but very fluent; not poetical or rhetorical, but he never talks twaddle and seldom utters a sentence that is not well worth hearing. He is a rapid, too rapid, speaker. Nevertheless, what he does say is sensible, forcible and to the point, and not too long, which is a great advantage. He is American to the core, in speech, intonation, and vigour. His anecdotes are superabundant, and, for the most part, the acquisitions of his own experience. They are always apt, often most pathetic, and sometimes appalling. His earnestness is intense, his energy untiring, his courage leonine, his tact uncommon, and his love for souls most tender." A couple of the points made would normally put off Moody's hearers - his rapid speech and his Americanism (accent) and of course the fact that he was not ordained. However, these were overlooked by most, I assume because of the power of Holy Spirit who was present at all the meetings and who flowed through him. 

Of Sankey, he wrote, "Mr Sankey sings appropriate sacred solos, the congregation often taking up the 'refrain' - a novelty which to hear of is startling to the red tapists of religion, but which to hear at once commanded solemnity, acquiescence, and gratification. Nothing can be further from 'performance' than his performance. The man and the music disappear in the sentiment. The sound enforces the sense, but does not supersede it - every word and every syllable are distinctly uttered and distinctly heard. He sings the gospel with persuasive effect, throwing his whole soul, not into the accompaniment, but into the song, the sentiment of which lights up his face, not with the glitter of art, but with the glory of unfeigned sympathy." 

Due to the popularity of the songs there was an increasing demand for a book of them to be published. Unfortunately, English publishers were not keen based upon a previous book not being successful. Moody was therefore forced to offer a guarantee against losses to have the hymn book published. The book was published in September and within two months there were two more editions. Moody was keen that nobody should be able to accuse himself or Sankey of greed (this did not stop that from happening), so they both agreed to give up all rights to royalties. By the time they got to London £5,000 had accrued in royalties, but Moody insisted that the money be given to the committee that organised the London mission, but they refused it, so it went to help with the re-building of the Chicago church that had burned down. By 1885 the royalties amounted to a staggering $357,388, all of which was given to charities. In fact Moody did not receive any remuneration at all during the two years he was in the UK; he only accepted enough to pay expenses and the expenses of their families, which had been the original agreement before they arrived in the country.


Next was Newcastle. By now the momentum of the movement had begun and would not really slacken. It is important to realise that the awakening was not just in the big cities where Moody and Sankey ministered, but, like a proper awakening, it spread to the surrounding towns and villages, but there were very few reports of any details, which is frustrating. What would have happened is that in the meetings for Christians where Moody stirred them up into activity - Holy Spirit would have increased their hunger and some would have either gone back to their towns and villages and lit the fires there, or they would have gone around the area evangelising. This would not have normally been individually inspired, but largely organised by the pastors of the different denominations.

In Newcastle and other places the first meeting would be about 90 minutes, singing, praying and preaching of the Word. It would be during this meeting when people would be impressed by Holy Spirit and where they would be awakened to the reality of their sin. The second meeting was opened with a hymn and then those who wanted to go would leave. Some, who have been awakened whould go to another room (inquiry room) to talk to mature Christians and here many would be led to Jesus. Others would not be ready for this, so they would be preached to again. The second meeting would close after about an hour, but the helpers would remain to talk to anyone who felt they still needed help. Some found their way to Christ without counselling. The helpers, through their exciting work, go away wanting more and some of the new believers go directly to speak to their family and friends to encourge them to accept Christ as their Saviour. The work in the inquiry room was the key moment of the day.

The noon prayer meeting that Moody had established in Chicago was considered by him to be a vital part of organising the saved to maximise the awakening - it kept the revival fires alive. For the people of those times it was very informal. It would start with a hymn and followed by prayers for people who some had written in about, asking prayer for them. This went on for about fifteen minutes and God answered many of the prayers during this awakening. Then there would be another hymn, a short talk from the leader and then thirty minutes for people to give short testimonies, prayers etc. In Newcastle, five or six hundred would attend daily and several would find Christ there. 

The evening meetings had ministers from all denominations on the platform either side of Moody and the meeting began with about half an hour of hymns. Someone wrote that Sankey sang while playing on an American organ. The music and singing (he would sing the solo, but quickly teach the congregation the chorus) not only drew sinners to hear but was eminently used of God to break down and melt their hearts. Sankey played with matchless feeling and touching tenderness, and a heart full of love for souls. Many were won for Christ during the tour through the gospel truths that were sung. 

After the singing, requests that were sent in asking for prayer were read out and prayer offered up. Moody would then read a portion of Scripture, making comments on some of the verses and by simple but telling illustrations, fastens the meaning of some part of the Word on the mind of the audience in such a manner that many can never forget it. He usually dealt with a theme rather than a text, illustrating the point by giving examples from all through the Bible.

Another observation about Moody's preaching - "Mr Moody's preaching is intensely earnest; he speaks because he believes the vital importance of the truth he utters, and not simply because he is expected to say something. His power of illustration is marvellous, both for its freshness and its pathos. Sometimes the effect of some illustration, nearly always taken from his own life and experience, is so great, that the most hardened feel their hearts smitten and drawn into sympathy with the truth, and those who before have looked upon Christ as having 'no form nor comeliness,' and 'no beauty that they should desire Him,' are drawn towards Him as their Saviour and their Friend. Words utterly fail to convey an adequate idea of the power of the simple and earnest-thrillingly earnest-presentation of the truth at these gospel services; and the power can only be accounted for on the ground that the Spirit of God, without noise and excitement, but in the calm, clear utterances of divine truth, attests to the power of the Word to awaken, convince, and convert the hearts of men."

After the sermon Sankey sang a hymn and Moody prayed for the unconverted; then he would call for an after meeting (inquiry meeting). This was the result of the Chicago fire - he wanted people to make a decision for Christ there and then and not wait for the enemy to try to disuade them in the coming days. He would ask all who wanted of finding forgiveness and peace through believing in Christ, to remain and be prayed for, and prayed with; and, if they wanted it, spoken to by Christian friends, who were anxious to point them to Christ. The Christians were also asked to remain, in order that they may pray for sinners and otherwise lead them to Jesus. 

The majority who were saved on this tour gave their lives to Jesus at this meeting, others would maybe come back again or go away, never accepting Jesus as their Saviour. One example was a woman who had been to a meeting but not given her life to Christ. For the whole week she was miserable as she saw the state of her sin, but did not know how to accept Jesus. She banged on her window, stopping a passerby - she said, "I am lost, tell me what I must do to be saved.I have been standing at my window all day seeing if a Christian would come along and if it had only been a beggar who loved the Saviour, I would have called him in." Later a woman called by and told her of the love of Jesus and she gave her life to him.

One of the worries of all ministers in awakenings is will the saved stay on course. To try to counteract this, Moody, normally after the first week of meetings in a town, would set up a meeting for the new converts. These meetings were once a week and Moody would always preside over them. By personal contact, by the opening of the word of God, by mutual edification, these lambs of the fold were stabilised and strengthened. If there were any who did not appear to see the truth clearly, they were drawn out and specially instructed in the Word and prayed for. Personal confession of Christ was given by all; an account of what they had been attempting to do for Christ was told; doubts were expressed where felt; misapprehensions concerning the truth as it is in Christ were cleared away by explanation of the Word. One minister wrote, "No one can come to see these young converts, and hear them speaking out of the fulness of their hearts to the praise and glory of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvellous light, without feeling this work is truly of God."

One of the best signs that this was a work of God was that so many new converts had consecrated their life to the saving of others. This is a major indication of an awakening; new converts, with the light of Jesus shining on their faces, testifying to others and leading them to Christ. It was the old, old story, by their fruit you will know them!

Once Moody and Sankey had established a work in a city; other evangelists would come and help multiply the fruit. In Newcastle, Henry Moorehouse came to help, so instead of one meeting there were two each evening and sometimes there were three at times when a local minister might join in. Soon the news of what was happening in the city would reach the surrounding neighbourhoods and requests would come in for people to visit there, which was answered by local ministers and laymen. Then special services were put on for specific groups of people. Working men seldom came to the big meetings, so meetings were put on especially for them and others for the upper classes - these were usually held away from church buildings; ie in Theatres or Assembly Rooms. 

Moody and Sankey were in Newcastle for about two months and as in other cities they visited, there were many salvations and the church was set on fire.

After a week in Darlington, they went to Bishop Auckland for a week. This town was a model for times to come. The Non-conformist ministers of the town met for a week of united prayer meetings in preparation for the visit of the Americans. They also spread the news of the coming visit far and wide, so that at the first meeting, which was in the largest building in the town, the church was jammed full and hundreds were unable to get in. This is what every village, town and city needs to do in an awakening. The week was described as 'one continued Pentecostal scene.' Many were saved and the churches were fired up so that they continued the work after Moody and Sankey had left.

Next was four days in Stockton-on-Tees which was prepared with a week of united prayer and at which Holy Spirit poured out in power right from the start.

 At this time, (November 1873) back in Newcastle they were continuing Moody's noon prayer meeting and having a glorious time. 1,500-2,500 were cramming into chapels to pray each day. On the 12th November Moody chaired a convention there to discuss subjects such as, how to reach the masses, how to run prayer meetings, how to conduct after-meetings, how to secure the young for Christ and to highlight what difficulties were presenting themselves. Awakenings do not just happen; they need a lot of planning and organising.

Newcastle is a good example of what happened in many cities that Moody and Sankey visited. It was not just Tyneside, but also Weardale and Teesdale that were truly blessed. Someone wrote that Christians had become happier, more passionate to do good works and more useful; that Christian workers had a new freedom and joy in working for the Lord and were being led into enterprises that greatly benefited their fellow man. Also that the latent talent within the various churches was being developed for the good of many; that church members knew each other better and loved each other more and that home mission work was being carried out with greater passion and success.

Even though the mission was successful, it looked as if their time in England would fizzle out as there were only a few towns to visit in the time they had allotted for the tour. However, one day a  minister from Leith went to some Newcastle meetings and was so impressed that he went home to tell other ministers about what he had seen. This created a great interest and an invitation was sent to Moody and Sankey, asking them to come to Edinburgh. Moody was promised that a committee would be formed of Free and Established church ministers to prepare for and organise the mission. On Moody accepting, a meeting was held for ministers and laymen to discuss the visit set for six weeks time and a weekly prayer meeting was started. These prayer meetings were described as very intense and remarkable, which shows that the Spirit of God was moving in Edinburgh before Moody arrived; stirring up the people in passion and expectation. 


There was a wonderful week in Carlisle before Moody and Sankey arrived in Edinburgh. People flooded into the meetings in Edinburgh and fruit was obvious right from the start. The Scots had to get used to the same things as the English - the new songs, the unusual way of Moody's preaching, the afternoon Bible meetings and the noon prayer meeting. The last was established quickly, with 500 coming to the first one, which quickly rose to more than a thousand daily. Another novelty was an all-day meeting where a new subject was discussed every hour. The speaker on each subject had fifteen minutes and the responding speakers had five minutes each. One of the more obvious blessings in Scotland was the unity amongst the ministers. The Scottish Church that the Americans found had not recovered from the 'Disruption' of thirty years earlier and was full of competition and distrust, but Moody and Sankey drew nearly everyone together. Ministers did come to oppose and criticise the meetings, but on experiencing them the opposition flowed away. The sectarian divisions which were so visible in ecclesiastical and social life, melted away when people got together to serve God in this awakening.

Two weeks into the mission 38 of the leading ministers and laymen of the city sent a circular to all the ministers in Scotland, pointing out the good work that was going on and asking for united prayer that the movement would go all over Scotland. The letter described what was the most remarkable feature of the meetings, "...It is the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, the solemn awe, the prayerful, believing, expectant spirit, the anxious inquiry of united souls, and the longing of believers to grow more like Christ—their hungering and thirsting after holiness."

The meetings were all very fruitful. The dour Calvinists of Scotland had been surprised by Holy Spirit and the love of the Father. A comment in the 'Scotsman' said, "Scotch preaching has for fifty years been little else been a reiteration of doctrines which, to me at least, are an unintelligible puzzle. The whole ingenuity of our preachers has been to convince us of God's wrath." Forgiveness could only be received by believing in a complex theological puzzle. Moody preached that Christianity was not mere feeling, but a surrender of the whole nature to a personal, living Christ.

Near the end of the year there was a meeting for working men in the Corn Exchange, the largest building in the city that held 6,000 people if there were no seats put out. It was nearly full on that Sunday evening with the men standing for over two hours. Almost 700 inquirers went to the Free Assembly Hall to hear more about Jesus. There not being nearly enough ministers or laymen to speak to each one, Moody addressed them and asked people to stand up if they were really serious and nearly everyone rose. People who had experienced the several religious movements of the previous 40 years, said they had never seen anything like it. One respected minister said that he had never seen anything like the extent and depth of the movement.

The noon prayer meeting grew until someone wrote in early January 1874; "The noon prayer meetings present a more wonderful sight than ever. To say they are crowded does not express half the interest. One must be a witness and a daily witness for himself to fully understand the spirit of prayer and trust and hope, and gladness that pervades the people who come together. On Saturday the crowd was so great, that both the Free Assembly Hall and Tolbooth Parish Church were crowded."

As Edinburgh was a University town there was a meeting for students where about 2,000 attended, together with representatives from almost every area of study. So many attended that Moody went out and spoke for some time to the many who could not get in the building.

Requests for Moody's services came in from all quarters after people had either visited or read reports on the meetings. Moody suggested that deputations be sent from Edinburgh to the various towns to hold services there. Later, an Evangelisation Society sent evangelists out all over Scotland at the request of many ministers.

Moody called for a week of prayer early in January and this was followed by a conference to discuss what had been happening in Edinburgh and the way forward around the country.

Edinburgh became the religious centre of the country in a way it had not been since the days of John Knox. When the evangelists left the city on January 21st, they had earned the privilege of entrance to every town and village in Scotland. An Evangelisation committee was set up that sent out evangelists to different churches all over Scotland, on request from ministers.

Moody and Sankey went down to Berwick-on-Tweed for just one day, but they started a movement that went on for two years. This again shows and was indeed a fact (there were signs in April 1873), that Holy Spirit was on the move in Berwick before the arrival of the Americans and that they lit the fire that went on for two years. Ministers of all denominations came from towns and villages all around and the movement spread throughout the area, probably because of this. On their leaving meetings were held daily. During this time the superintendent of police told a minister that the police had nothing to do - a clear sign of fruit from the awakening. After three weeks of meetings every night, they stopped them and turned their attention to reaching out to the neighbourhood.

Two and a half weeks in Dundee, where they had been praying for weeks beforehand in preparation. there were the usual wonderful results, was followed by Glasgow.


There was a meeting held in the middle of December to prepare for the Moody and Sankey visit, at which there were more than 100 ministers and laymen. United prayer meetings were begun on January 5th and meetings went on every day until the Americans arrived on February 8th, when they had their first evening meeting at the City Hall. There were so many people that the overflow filled three churches. Meetings were held in different churches all over Glasgow and occasionally outside the city at places like Helensborough, Greenock and Paisley. A senior minister said that you could hardly preach the Gospel in Glasgow without great results.

During the time in Glasgow there were many special meetings - for women, men, children, young men, teachers, ship-builders, warehouse girls etc. At some of these, there were five or six thousand present. One of the fruits of the awakening in Glasgow was the work of young men with the poor, something encouraged by Moody. Using a tent on Glasgow Green they held breakfast meetings for the homeless. They would go around the slums trying to encourage the men and women to come to the breakfast. In one report they gathered 300 people who were full of despair to partake of meat sandwiches and tea. They sang hymns while people gathered, then had breakfast and then a short service. I hope that this sort of ministry went on in many other places, but I have seen no reports.

"The final meeting in Glasgow was held in the Botanical Gardens on May 20th. Sankey found his way into the building and began the service with six or seven thousand, who were crushed together there; but so great was the crowd outside, estimated at twenty to thirty thousand people, that Moody himself could not get inside. Standing on the coachman’s box of the carriage in which he was driven, he asked the members of the choir to sing. They found a place for themselves on the roof of a low shed near the building, and after they had sung Moody preached for an hour on “Immediate Salvation.” So distinct was his voice that the great crowd could hear him without difficulty. The evening was beautiful, the air calm, the sun near its setting; the deep green foliage of the trees that enclosed the grounds framed the scene. Writing of this, a witness said: 'We thought of the days of Whitefield, of such a scene as that mentioned in his life, when, in 1753 at Glasgow, twenty thousand souls hung on his lips as he bade them farewell.' Here there were thirty thousand eager hearers, for by this time the thousands within the Crystal Palace had come out, though their numbers quietly melting into the main body did not make a very perceptible addition to the crowd. After the sermon, Moody asked all those who wished to attend the inquiry meeting to enter the Palace. Those who could remain were requested to gather in the neighbouring church, Kelvinside, for prayer. In a few minutes the Crystal Palace was filled, and when Moody asked for those who were unsaved and yet anxious to be saved, two thousand people rose to their feet."

The time in Glasgow was as fruitful as everywhere else. In an all-day convention summing up the few months of labour, Moody said that there was a general feeling in the Scottish churches that new converts needed to be taught before they went out to testify. He said, "The spirit of the gospel is get and give...I believe that if hundreds of young converts were setting to work they would do immense good." He pointed out that they would make mistakes, but that was not something to be afraid of as we all make mistakes. This really surprises me because the huge revival just a dozen years before was often powerfully spread by new converts testifying, but perhaps ministers in cities view things differently than those in country parishes. Moody also pointed out that the idea that ministers needed a lot of education was wrong - he would prefer to see ministers with passion and no knowledge, than with knowledge and no passion.

At some point during the Mission, Moody realised that he needed help from someone to follow up on the young men that had been ministered to during his visits to the different cities. To do this work he chose a Scotsman who was very different from himself; someone he called the most Christ-like young man he had ever met - Henry Drummond. In those days young men were considered the most important sector of society in an awakening as they could change society in the future - of course, now we would include young women as well. Drummond started working in the inquiry room, then began to address meetings and then Moody asked him to go back to the cities that had been visited. Drummond had recently written a paper that said that speaking to people one on one was more important than preaching. In his work for Moody, "He came to know the life histories of young men in all classes. He made himself a great speaker; he knew how to seize the critical moment and his modesty, his refinement, his gentle and generous nature, his manliness and above all, his profound conviction, won for him disciples in every place he visited."

Although Edinburgh and Glasgow were great centres of the awakening, all around these cities God was doing a powerful work. United prayer meetings and evangelistic meetings were started all over Scotland. Excitement and expectation were everywhere. One of the most visible fruits of the awakening was the unity that abounded across Scotland. This had been a real problem before God started to hover over the land, but Holy Spirit sorted the problem. Without unity, Holy Spirit cannot do much. There was little opposition to the movement. The newspapers either said nothing or wrote respectfully about it. 

Having said that, there was one major controversy in Scotland due to Moody's meetings. A pastor in the Highlands, Dr Kennedy of Dingwell, wrote a paper called “Hyper Evangelism ‘Another Gospel’ Though a Mighty Power.” Kennedy was a very respected minister from Ross-shire who had been involved in revivals in the past including the one in Loch Tay. Kennedy was not happy with the revival at all, coining the phrase ‘Hyper Evangelism’. In the South of Scotland there was another very respected minister called Horatius Bonar, who wrote a paper opposing that written by Kennedy. Both these ministers were part of the Free Church of Scotland which had broken away from the Church of Scotland in 1843. So, they were supposedly on the same side, but in this they were diametrically opposed to one another. Kennedy, now getting on in years, believed in a form of Calvinism that did not allow any divergence. One of his main disagreements was with the idea that you could become a Christian there and then; in the Highlands they normally required proof of several months of good Christian living before deciding if they were saved or not. However, Bonar, although disagreeing with some aspects of Moody’s ministry, realised that in the important areas he could agree with Moody, whilst disagreeing with some of the less important ones. Basically, Kennedy threw the baby out with the bath water, whereas Bonar didn't. Fortunately, this disagreement did not seem to impact the move of God in Scotland to any important degree. However, we will see later, when Moody moves to London, that perhaps this is not the case regarding the Anglicans.

You can read a more detailed paper on this dispute here:

On the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Sankey read an anonymous poem that he thought might be made into a hymn. At the meeting in Edinburgh, Moody asked him to play a suitable hymn with a solo, that was suitable for ending the meeting, the theme of which was the 'Good Shepherd.' Sankey did not have one, but he kept hearing a voice telling him to play the hymn he found on the train. He finally gave in, trusting the Lord to give him the tune. He played a first verse and then repeated the tune, note for note with subsequent verses. The hymn made a deep impact on everyone, bringing many to tears This became his most popular hymn, "The Ninety and Nine."

The duo then took meetings in many places to the West (Salcoats, Ayr, Irvine) and North of Scotland - Stirling, Perth, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Huntly, Montrose, Forfar, Arbroath, Blairgowrie, Inverness, Nairn, Elgin, Banff, Wick, Thurso, Oban, Cambletown and Rothesay. There is little point in describing these visits as they were very similar to what has been described above. All were successful with many coming to Jesus. 

Moody had received many requests from London for him to go and minister there, but he thought that the time was not right, particularly because the unity amongst the churches did not seem to be there. While in Thurso he met with a well-known London businessman called Hugh Matheson and they discussed how a campaign in London might be done. One of the greatest blessings to the Body of Christ during the second half of the 19th century was the 'Christian'; formerly known as the 'Revival'. This weekly newspaper published reports from all over the UK and some abroad, of revivals. It was an outstanding success in the 1859-64 revival, with people all over the nation reading the testimonies published in the newspaper and being stirred up to greater things for the Lord. The newspaper had reported on most of Moody's meetings and he recognised the benefit of it, so he asked Matheson to raise a fund of £2,000 to pay for the newspaper to be sent to every minister in the UK, about 30,000, for three months. By doing this Moody hoped that the English ministers would understand the benefits of what he was doing and stand beside him.


Next stop was Belfast on September 5th. Like everywhere else the churches were not big enough to contain the crowds that wanted to hear Moody and Sankey. The number of inquirers were considerable right at the beginning of the campaign, and this could only have been possible because Holy Spirit had been at work in people for weeks or months before the visit of the Americans. There was an open-air meeting amongst the mill workers where over 10,000 were present. An evening meeting was held for women to allow mill workers and warehouse workers to attend. As soon as the church's doors were opened the church was full and the women filled three other churches as well. The numbers who sought God were so many that they could not be spoken to one on one. After one Friday evening service, Moody asked those who wanted to accept Christ to stand up, once they stood Moody exclaimed, "Thank God I cannot count them, there are so many!" Talking about the number saved, here or elsewhere is extremely difficult as nobody seems to have collected such data, but there were clearly many accepting Jesus at every service, so the numbers were considerable.

Other evangelists, such as Moorehouse, began to get involved and the movement started to spread beyond Belfast. Ministers started to ask for people to come and help them light the fires in their churches, so the Evangelisation Committee sent out helpers two by two.

The most marked features of the movement here were the desire to hear the word of God, the openness of people to be spoken to about their souls, the admission that they did not know Jesus and the confession that they had found Jesus.

There was no real centre for the work as meetings were held all over the city. As in other places, the beauty of unity was very apparent, with Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists sharing each others' platforms. After the third week there were five meetings each day in five different churches, including the inquirers meeting and one for young men.

More and more Christians were getting fired up by Moody to take part in the movement. He had meetings especially for them for this purpose. At one meeting three churches were filled with Christian workers.

After four weeks they began to issue tickets for meetings. A very common problem in an awakening is that the Christians want to go to meetings every night, preventing others from getting in. To get one of these tickets you just had to have not yet heard Moody speak. This enabled 3,000 more people to hear the message.

An indication of the success of the mission is a report from one minister, "Meanwhile another meeting of men was assembling in my church. It was already very nearly filled when we heard the tread of a large company approaching. It was a phalanx of these redeemed youths. They sang the new song. In a spontaneous burst of praise they were telling forth the wonders of redeeming love. No language can describe the scene. The heavenly echoes of that burst of praise, I think, will never be forgotten by any who heard it. The meeting that followed, consisting of some two thousand men, I need not say, was one of profound interest — Jesus was felt to be in the midst."

Another example is, "There was a meeting of men at Fisherwick Place. At the close of his address, all who had recently been found by the Good Shepherd, and also all who were seeking Him, were requested to retire to the adjoining, lecture room. Some six hundred men did so. Mr Moody again sifted them, by requesting that those only who were deeply anxious to be saved should adjourn to another room. Probably nearly three hundred did so. In breathless stillness Mr Moody addressed them, very briefly stating that he could do no more for them — that they had heard the gospel, and that it was for themselves to decide. He called upon them to kneel and pray for themselves. They bowed as one man, and now here and there might be heard the short cry for mercy — a few earnest words of supplication, probably about thirty or forty so cried to God one after the other. Surely the Lord is in this place! was the thought which rose in holy fear in the hearts of all. After a short prayer by Mr Moody, he addressed them very faithfully. He again held forth Christ and invited all to rise who felt that they could there and then accept Jesus. All of that large company, save twenty or thirty, stood up, and solemnly avouched the Lord to be their God. This wonderful sight cannot be described. The glory of it cannot be realised even by those best acquainted with divine things."

After Belfast there was Londonderry for a few days and then Dublin before they went back to England.

The movement had spread to different parts of Northern Ireland, particularly County Down and County Antrim. Part of the Monday meetings was set aside for reports on what was happening elsewhere and at the meeting at the end of November, around six weeks after Moody and Sankey left, there were very favourable reports of Holy Spirit moving powerfully in Belfast and elsewhere, particularly in Episcopal churches which had been recently targetted. Evangelistic services were going on in every district of the city. Some businesses were holding services and in one mill 81 professed Christ. Three lads went around their area gathering people until they were meeting with 100 youngsters. There were still packed meetings and much evangelistic work going on in February 1875. 


The Americans' first stop when back in England was Manchester. They arrived in early December in a city that had been praying for most of the year. Since April united evangelistic services had been held in nearly all the Non-conformist churches in the district. It is interesting to note that the article specifically omitted the Anglicans. 2,500 came through thick fog and pouring rain to the first meeting for Christian workers. Moody stated that the first week in Manchester was the most powerful first service he had experienced in any city.

As usual, the meetings grew in power as the days passed by. The churches were crowded out. At the afternoon women's meetings there were 2,000 crammed into the church. The noon prayer meetings had two to three thousand participants. 

Clearly, a lack of Anglican participation was a real problem because Moody and Sankey sent out a letter to the clergy of Manchester and Salford - "Having come to Manchester with my friend, Mr Sankey, for the month of December, with the one object of preaching Christ, it has been a matter of disappointment that not more clergymen of the Church of England have attended our meetings. As God has granted large blessings where unity has prevailed, we earnestly trust that you will join in seeking a blessing for Manchester." Manchester, Dec. 4, 1874. D. L. Moody. This letter worked to some extent, but the issue was also a problem when they went to London.

The Rector of Whalley Grange is perhaps a good example. Firstly, he mentions in a report on the Manchester mission, that laymen were not allowed to minister in an Anglican church. This would have put up a huge barrier to Anglicans getting involved. Then he explains his initial feelings, which were probably felt by many Anglican ministers, "I was one of those, who before the visit of the American evangelist to our city, had my misgivings about the work. With any and every real work, I have always endeavoured to the best of my ability, to sympathise, and where possible to cooperate. And the question with me concerning this particular work was, is it real! Some declared that it would all prove evanescent; that sudden, spasmodic, and fitful action in the church, is invariably succeeded by languor and deadness. Some decried any irregular work; some denounced all excitement; some rebelled against the idea of two men coming from America to evangelise England...With these feelings, I went to the Free Trade Hall. The first meeting did not convince me. I went again and again and again. Each time I was more satisfied, and I have now no hesitation in avowing my conviction that the men have been raised up of God to do a marvellous work."

In the second week there was a meeting for Christian workers, mainly young men, in Oxford Hall where 3,000 crammed into the building. During the service Moody asked for everyone who was willing to work for the Lord to stand up. Almost the entire body sprang to its feet. Reginald Radcliffe was at the meeting and came up with a plan. He suggested that Manchester be cut up into districts and that two or three young people should take a district and deliver tracts to every house in their area. Radcliffe had previously done something similar in Edinburgh and Liverpool. 

That afternoon fifteen to twenty thousand people tried to get into the meeting, so two further buildings were filled. In addition twenty to thirty meetings were held in the neighbourhood, led by pastors and laymen. Many gave their lives to Jesus. Someone wrote that at the evening meeting Moody spoke as if tongues of fire hovered over his head. 

One minister wrote, "Manchester, I am pleased to say, is now on fire. The most difficult of all English cities, perhaps to be set on fire by anything but politics, it is now fairly ablaze and the flames are breaking out in all directions. Yesterday the Free Trade Hall, within whose walls scenes of no common interest and excitement have often been witnessed, presented a spectacle such as those who beheld it will not easily forget. The Rev. Dr McKerrow, my venerable predecessor in the ministry, assured me that he had seen no such sight, even in the most excited political times, during the forty-seven years of his life in Manchester, as that which he saw there on Sunday afternoon."

The meetings here seem to have been very successful, but unlike Belfast and some other cities, it was reported that the meetings and congregations fell away substantially after Moody left. The attendance at the noon prayer meeting fell dramatically. Perhaps the people reverted to local prayer meetings and services as they were doing for seven months before Moody arrived.

Much good was done though, particularly many salvations and life injected into the Church. A minister wrote, "Believers have been quickened. We needed shaking, and we have got It. The remedy may have been drastic, but it was salutary. The thousands of workers who met on Sunday mornings were kindled into enthusiasm. The city has unquestionably been stirred. No class received more blessing than the ministers: sermons have changed from formalism into freedom, and from frost into fervour. Prayer meetings, formerly dull as ditch water have been quickened and made alive with more interest and power. Long prayers have been shortened; special services are becoming common; evangelistic effort is on every hand."

Another wrote, "...Mr Moody has demonstrated to us, in a way at once startling and delightful, that, after all, the grand levers for raising souls out of the fearful pit and the miry clay are just the doctrines which our so-called advanced thinkers are trying to persuade the Christian world to discard as antiquated and impotent. These are, the doctrine of the atoning death of Jesus Christ; the doctrine of a living, loving, personal Saviour, and the doctrine of the new birth by the Spirit and the Word of Almighty God." (Sounds like what is happening today! 2023)


The Americans next spent two weeks in Sheffield until the middle of January. The vicar of the town was a strong supporter of their work there. The Albert Hall was the main venue and there were normally hundreds of people who could not get in. There were generally three services a day there - the noon prayer meeting, Bible study at 3:00 pm and the evening service at 7:30 pm and then there were inquiry meetings after the afternoon and evening services.

The Times newspaper reported that one of the Sundays was "one of the most glorious days for the work of God ever seen in this town." The day began with an over-crowded meeting of Christian helpers; at 11:00 am a meeting for those who don't normally go to church, which was by ticket only; there was a women's only meeting at 3:00 pm, but after the Hall was full (2,500), there were still thousands waiting outside trying to get in. Moody decided to take the people outside to the churchyard of the Parish church, so around 10,000 gathered to hear him preach from a raised tombstone. Sankey stayed and took the meeting in the Albert Hall. The 7:30 pm men's meeting was crowded out, with thousands outside. Those outside were split into groups and different ministers addressed them, while Drummond, who had come over from Manchester to help, held a meeting in the Temperance Hall.

At the end of the two weeks, there was as usual a meeting for those who had been saved during the mission. Six hundred came, but I do not believe that was the limit of the mission. People would not have gone to the meeting for various reasons, so the true numbers are unknown.


The first meeting in Birmingham was supposedly for Christian workers, but it appeared that anyone could go - there were 3,000 people there, but there was suspicion that most of those were not workers. There had, unusually, been a lot of newspaper coverage concerning the Birmingham mission. Two or three columns were given every day by local newspapers, which some said was why the numbers were so good. The numbers were large - 3-4,000 at the Town Hall for the noon prayer meeting and in the evening there were 13,000 at Bingley Hall with hundreds left outside. Another explanation for the good numbers was that there was a report that the Anglican clergy took a leading part in the movement there.

Carr's Lane Chapel was the third building normally used, and in the first eight days of the mission, it was calculated that 106,000 attended the meetings at the three venues.

It was the same model as used elsewhere and the same good results. After two weeks in Birmingham, the Americans had a week off before going to Liverpool.


They arrived in Liverpool on February 7th to hold meetings mainly in Victoria Hall, a venue that had been built of wood, specifically to hold these meetings. It had taken forty days to build at a cost of £4,000, which was a lot of money for a building that was to be used for just a month. This comment by Rev Aitken, a local vicar and revivalist gives an idea of the success of the mission. "The meetings on Sunday last were overwhelming. Four times Victoria Hall was crowded to its utmost capacity, whilst Newsome's Circus and St. James' Hall was twice filled. There must have been not less than forty-five thousand persons present at the various meetings. There were special trains from St. Helens and Southport for the accommodation of many who desired to attend. The morning meeting for Christian workers, although at the early hour of eight o'clock, was not only crowded, but large numbers were unable to gain admittance."

Reginald Radcliffe had arranged for every house in the city to be visited, to encourage people to come to the meetings. It seems that in Liverpool the clergy all worked together in great unity; even the Anglicans were heavily involved.

The meetings were judged a great success with many giving their lives to the Lord. It was reported that theatres and public houses were less frequented and bookshops were complaining that sales of Valentine cards had noticeably decreased.

A more detailed report on the visit to Liverpool can be found here:

From Liverpool Moody and Sankey went to their final city on this trip, London.


In London there were five main venues for their four months of meetings. The huge Agricultural Hall in Islington that held 13,700 plus 3,500 standing, with an overflow for 3,000 in the adjoining St Mary's Hall; it was taken until May 9th.. Then there was the  Bow Road Hall, which was specially built, being ready at the end of May. It was in the east of the city and held 10,000, the Haymarket Opera House in the west end held 5,000, the Exeter (3,000) and Victoria Halls in the south and in June Camberwell Green Hall, which held about nine thousand.

Moody asked Radcliffe if he would repeat his Liverpool and Manchester efforts and organise people to visit every house in London to leave a leaflet or talk to the inhabitants to encourage them to come to the meetings. This turned out to be his most difficult task because he was unable to get enough helpers. Radcliffe sent out calls everywhere for more helpers, Spurgeon asked for more and Moody did a meeting aimed at getting 1,000 more helpers, but it seems that there were never enough. Why it was so difficult I do not know. All Moody's services for Christian believers were aimed at stirring them up to step out and serve God. There were some reports that the Church was in a somewhat moribund state, perhaps people were involved in attending services and listening to their pastors rather than stepping out in their calling. The idea of the 'priesthood of all believers' was fairly unknown in those days. Each house would be given a leaflet about the Moody meetings, but as the meetings were so crowded anyway, few would have been able to attend. I think the main reason was to make the Gospel known to the people. Every visit was recorded, so the resulting report would have been a treasure trove for future evangelistic efforts.

Another reason for difficulty in getting enough helpers could have been the relative lack of Anglican involvement. Anglicans should have been right behind the movement and the vicars should have encouraged their congregations to go to the meetings and get involved - some did, but I believe that a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury was unhelpful (nothing new), in it he said

"Many of our parochial clergy, as you are aware, have been present at the meetings in question, and those who have stood aloof have not done so from any want of interest, but because they have felt that, greatly as they rejoiced that simple Gospel truths were urged on their people's consciences, there were circumstances attending the movement to which they could not consistently give their approval. If there is a difficulty in the clergy's giving their official sanction to the work, you will at once see that in the case of the bishops, there are greater difficulties in the way of any direct sanction, which, coming from them, could not but be regarded as official and authoritative; and I confess that the objections I originally felt still remain in full force, now that we have had time to examine and to learn from various quarters the exact nature of the movement. But looking to the vast field that lies before us, and the overwhelming difficulties of contending with the mass of positive sin and careless indifference which exists on all sides against the progress of the Gospel, I, for my part, rejoice that, whether regularly or irregularly, whether according to the Divine Scriptural and perfect way, or imperfectly with certain admixtures of human error, Christ is preached, and sleeping consciences are aroused.”

A typically political letter, trying to ingratiate himself with both sides of the spectrum. So, because he did not like some aspects of the meetings he was prepared to throw most of the baby out with the bath water. He did not ban his vicars' involvement, but he certainly did not encourage them. In such a hierarchical organisation where control is the name of the game; lack of direction from the Bishops was very unhelpful and must have damaged the potential fruit from the mission, particularly in London.

The archbishop was definitely not alone in not liking aspects of the mission. There were ministers all over the UK who would not engage in the meetings due to some aspect they did not agree with. The attitude that a minister must know exactly how God is going to use someone has always been a major weakness in our Church. We are told in the Word that we must look at the fruit, but many seem to think God will not use someone to bring an awakening who, for example, speaks too quickly or who is not ordained. One of the biggest judgements ministers made in the 19th century was that the only genuine revival is a 'quiet' one. There were many reports during this awakening that it was great because there was no emotion or shouting out. It is difficult to understand how men, who are meant to be humble before the Lord, can be so arrogant in thinking that they can judge a genuine revival or not. Moody was so right when he said, "Rigid accuracy in doctrinal definitions is of inferior importance to a living faith in Christ.' Unfortunately, nothing has changed as there are far too many who are prepared to ignore a move of God because it does not fit what they think one should look like. Let us all look at the FRUIT.

It is difficult to gauge the success or otherwise of the London mission as reports differed. Clearly, a mass of people attended the services - in the four months a reported 2,530,000 were at the services; an enormous number and more than had ever been gathered together before (or perhaps since). Obviously, many people came multiple times, so that figure does not represent different individuals; still...! There were difficulties at the Agricultural Hall because a significant portion of the people could not hear Moody and people did leave because of this. A huge sounding board was replaced as it did not work, but I do not know if the problem was solved. Sankey could be heard as he spoke his words very succinctly. 

There was also a question over whether the right people were attending. Several people, including the Earl of Shaftesbury, asked Moody to switch his evening meetings to the Opera House, Haymarket, because, at the Agricultural Hall he was only attracting middle-class people from that area - the poor were not travelling from the East and the rich were not travelling from the West. Moody disagreed as he could not get past the difference in numbers - 17,000 against 5,000. However, he later seems to have agreed as he gave up the Agricultural Hall early and held two meetings each evening - one at Bow and one at the Opera House, which required a lot of travelling. Unfortunately, due to a court case brought by a man who rented a box at the Opera House, who was annoyed that he had no Opera to watch, they could not renew their contract beyond the end of May.  

A common problem in an awakening is that seats at the meetings are taken up by Christians. It is understandable, because Christians want to be where Holy Spirit is, and by all accounts there was a great need in that time (as it is today) for Christians to be knocked out of their complacency and set on fire. But there is always a time when they need to be kicked out of the nest. Various organisers of the missions around the UK recognised this and made a number of meeting 'ticket only' to try to control the sort of person who came to the meetings. Moody recognised this as well, noting that it was a problem that was greater in London than elsewhere, for he said, "It's time for Christians to stop coming here and crowding into the best seats. It's time for 'em to go out among these sailors and drunkards and bring them in and give them the best seats."

From the reports I have read it seems that perhaps a lot of people gave their lives to the Lord, but relatively few compared with other cities where Moody ministered and fewer than was hoped for. Definitely, the poor came in very small numbers and this was a disappointment. The strange thing here is that William Booth was reaching the East End very successfully during this period and yet in everything i have read there has been no mention of him at all! One report said that women were noticeably lacking in numbers at the evening meetings. Yet Drummond wrote, "The work is coming out grandly now, and I think the next two months will witness wonderful results. It is deepening on every side, and even London is beginning to be moved. Mr Moody said Sunday was the best day of his life." And Dr Andrew Bonar wrote, "Have been with Moody again in London. Immense crowds, a wonderful sight, and more wonderful impression."

Here are some statistics. In Camberwell Hall, 60 meetings, attended by 480,000 people; in Victoria Hall, 45 meetings, attended by 400,000; in the Royal Haymarket Opera House, 60 meetings, attended by 330,000; in Bow Road Hall, 60 meetings, attended by 600,000 and in Agricultural Hall, 60 meetings, attended by 720,000: in all, 285 meetings, attended by 2,530,000 people. The mission cost £28,396 19s. 6d., nearly all of which was subscribed before the close of the meetings.


Moody visited Wrexham without Sankey in early August a few days before leaving for home. Here is a description of the atmosphere in the City before the meeting, which I think could be describing any town.

"All day long the people poured into town from every direction. The day was fine, and this enabled thousands to walk from the surrounding districts. Along all the avenues leading to the town might have been seen streams of dusty perspiring travellers, many footsore and weary on account of the long distance they had traversed. Without intermission, vehicles were arriving laden with visitors. The stage carts plying between the town and Rhos and Brymbo were literally crammed, and the demand for seats could scarcely be supplied. Some of the poor horses were dreadfully punished by the heavy traffic and the many journeys they had to make. But so long as there were people to be conveyed, the drivers cared little for their animals. On the Ruabon Road there was presented an almost continuous procession of carts, laden to the almost capacity, and in most cases the occupants singing some of the melodies which will ever be associated with the names of the American revivalists."

Unfortunately, although many thousands attended the meeting in Wrexham, it was not a success; many went away disappointed. The meeting later in the day was more successful.


Apart, of course, from the early part of the tour, which was arranged at the last minute, the remainder was very well prepared and organised. In the cities committees were set up representing different denominations, to organise the visit of the Americans. United prayer meetings were set up some months before the mission, which helped the spiritual side of the visit as well as helping with unity. In some cities - Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool and London, as mentioned, Reginald Radcliffe organised Christian helpers to go out two by two to visit every single dwelling in their area. This ensured that everyone knew about the meetings and that millions of minds were turned to thinking about Jesus! The Free Church of Scotland reported that the revivals that had been all over Scotland, whether connected to Moody or not, were generally, all prepared with a lot of prayer.

Someone wrote, "Nothing is clearer than that London has been remarkably stirred by the labours of these two evangelists. The windows of every bookseller are hung with their pictures. Penny editions of Mr Sankey’s songs are hawked about the streets. The stages and the railway stations are placarded to catch the travellers for their meetings. The papers report their services with a fulness never dreamed of before in reporting religious meetings..." There had never before been such advertising of meetings in London, however, I do not know if the same can be said for other towns and cities. Overall I doubt if there had ever been such an organised mission.


As already mentioned only the extreme Calvinists seem to have opposed the mission in Scotland. The newspapers were generally kind. In Northern Ireland, the unity, apart from the Catholics was really good and again, the newspapers were fairly supportive.

There was some opposition to Moody and Sankey themselves, which was only to be expected. Some people did not like Moody's quick speech, his American accent and his vulgarity (which I understand to mean that he did not speak in the high tones of the UK ministers). And of course some did not like Sankey's hymns, because they were different. Basically, the opposition came from people who did not like change.

Rumours were circulated to try to discredit Moody. He was accused of making a lot of money from the tour and Sankey was accused of getting a commission on selling organs. It was quite easy to counter these accusations as they never took a penny except for expenses. One way Moody diverted problems was by having pastors meetings before starting a campaign in a city. He could answer there any accusations that were thrown at him.

In England, there were numerous attacks (mocking and criticising) through newspapers and magazines. The opposition seems to have come from the High Church people. They really were not happy. It was that party that tried everything to stop Moody from speaking to the students at Eton. Clearly, there was a huge danger that Moody might corrupt the minds of the students! It was even mentioned in Parliament and in the end they had to cancel the meeting in a tent that had been set up for the purpose, even though the head of the College had initially given his permission. Someone offered his large garden and around a thousand ended up listening to Moody there.

 I assume it was this same party that stopped the Archbishop from giving his blessing to the mission.

Having said this, there was no violence shown, unlike in other Awakenings and overall one could say that the opposition was quite light.


If one is looking for statistics of people saved, one will be disappointed, because, probably for the first time ever, this evangelist did not care about recording the numbers saved! This is quite frustrating, and as far as I can see, nobody has looked at denominational reports (they may not exist) to find out the numbers added during this period. So, we shall have to judge the 'results' in a different way.

Looking at the numbers attending the meetings, I think I can safely say that in the cities more people had heard the Gospel preached than during anyother mission, before and since, which clearly has to be a major positive.

Someone wrote about another significant benefit, "Moody's mission is to break up formalism and show the necessity and power of spirituality. The tendency of human nature the world over is to drop down into forms, and allow the spiritual flame to burn very low. As Mr Moody has expressed it, Christians get into ruts. He abominates ruts. In Christian nations that are full of strong defenders of the faith, there have come over many of the churches a stiffness and dullness in prayer meetings and other services that it was necessary to break up." 

Basically, he was saying that we get into a religiosity when we are not exposed to the work of Holy Spirit. Scotland was very guilty of this and so was the High Church in England. This is a danger we must all be aware of. Someone wrote, "No class received more blessing than the ministers: sermons have changed from formalism into freedom, and from frost into fervour. Prayer meetings, formerly dull as ditch water have been quickened and made alive with more interest and power. Long prayers have been shortened; special services are becoming common; evangelistic effort is on every hand."

Someone summed up some other benefits from Moody's visit.  "A spirit of evangelism was awakened that has never died away. A large number of city missions and other active organisations were established. Denominational differences were buried to a remarkable extent. The clergymen of all denominations were drawn into cooperation on a common platform — the salvation of the lost. Bibles were re-opened, and Bible study received a wonderful impetus. Long-standing prejudices were swept away. New life was infused into all methods of Christian activity. An impetus was given to the cause of Temperance such as had not been experienced in Great Britain before. No attempt was made to proselytise, but converts were passed over to existing churches, for nurture and admonition in the things of the Lord.”

City missions etc always get a significant boost from an Awakening. A man from Manchester commented that Sunday school teachers, missionaries, tract distributors etc, all got a tremendous boost from the meetings. Unity was a massive benefit to the Church going forward, particularly in Scotland. 

The idea of deciding there and then for Christ was novel to many and would be taken up going forward. Someone wrote, "...Mr Moody has demonstrated to us, in a way at once startling and delightful, that, after all, the grand levers for raising souls out of the fearful pit and the miry clay are just the doctrines which our so-called advanced thinkers are trying to persuade the Christian world to discard as antiquated and impotent. These are, the doctrine of the atoning death of Jesus Christ; the doctrine of a living, loving, personal Saviour, and the doctrine of the new birth by the Spirit and the Word of Almighty God." 

Many writers commented on the benefits to the Church from Moody's daily Bible study meetings. The desire to read the Bible that came from these meetings changed the face of the Church across Great Britain.

Ministers were one of the main groups who were blessed. They were fired up and they had learned about evangelism, a different way to preach and worship. 

The noon prayer meeting was revolutionary. These were at the core of Moody's ministry and they spread all over the nation. More prayer is always a major benefit in any circumstance.

Having pointed out these benefits, I think the comments made by the Bishop of Manchester at this time are very revealing. He mentioned that the excitement generated by Moody and Sankey would soon disappear. He said, "there was a danger of people acquiring a craving for such food (revival) to the neglect of the wholesome diet of prayer, communion and earnest Bible study."

He seems to have his head in the sand; not recognising the extraordinary impetus that Moody's ministry had given to prayer and Bible reading. But this is always a major problem with significant parts of the Anglican Church. When ministers/bishops criticise people involved in a move of God, maybe they should be asked to explain what the fruit of their ministry is. It gives an insight into why some Anglican ministers did not get involved. 

The introduction of the 'after-meeting' was also a benefit. Bringing people to a decision for Christ there and then. William Booth had been doing the same thing for over ten years. Pastoral follow-up is very important afterwards.

Sankey's hymns were of great benefit to the Church. Every awakening brings with it a new form of music. Their popularity was enormous and continued to bring people closer to God fro years after he returned to the USA.

One big disappointment to many was that the masses (the poor) were not impacted by the awakening. At this time William Booth, through the Salvation Army was trying to remedy this in London, and in only a few years time their work was going to explode over the UK and around the world.


Firstly, they were foreigners and so did not bring any denominational baggage with them. They could be accepted by all sides of the Church.

Secondly, Sankey brought some very catchy tunes with him that were picked up easily by all classes. Also, the novelty of him singing a solo with his fine voice was very attractive.

Thirdly, Moody's preaching was extraordinarily effective; particularly his anecdotes drawn from personal experience,  were striking, impressive, pathetic, tragic, comic; whatever was needed in the moment and they really drew the audience into what he was trying to say. England and Scotland had great orators, but generally they were full of religiosity and unapproachable.

Fourthly, the widespread preparation, advertising and testimonies from the saved.

Fifthly, Moody was himself an attraction - a man with intense conviction, profoundly passionate, with an indomitable energy, great administrative talent, excellent generalship, marvellous tact and a very strong will. He was a holy man, one who the enemy could not get at.

And overall there was Holy Spirit hovering over the nation. He was apparent in every town and every meeting and without Him the results would have been small. The Earl of Shaftesbury pondered this question. He realised that bishops and vicars were talking about how to reach the masses when two untrained, unskilled, unordained men come from America and calmly impact the lives of thousands. He came to the conclusion that there had to be 'something in it superhuman'. 


Moody and Sankey leaving a town did not mean the end of the awakening. All over ministers built on what had been started. Examples of this are in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Berwick, but I suspect the same was happening in every town they visited.

Apart from the very successful meetings in the towns and cities where Moody and Sankey ministered all over the country; there were also many salvations in towns and villages around these towns and cities, as pastors began their own meetings and evangelists went out at the request of ministers. For example the pastors in Bolton heard of what was happening and organised a pastor's conference; started a noon prayer meeting, exchanged pulpits, put on special services, They were one united body taking the gospel to the people. Through Holy Spirit and the news from around the country there was an expectancy of an awakening - when this occurs fires break out all over the place.

Then there are the converts from Moody's meetings who went out testifying around their area, spreading the awakening.

In addition, there were many areas of the country that had absolutely nothing to do with Moody, but where Holy Spirit was working powerfully. On my website I have nearly 400 different places where I have read a report on an awakening. These range from the Shetland Islands to west Cornwall. Only 84 of these are places that Moody visited. The one big hole on the map is Wales. I have researched 22 Welsh (English language) newspapers for 1873, 1874 and 1875 and I found less than ten reports of revival and ALL of them in the North. This puzzles me a lot as with the history of Welsh revivals, it is almost inconceivable that the awakening did not spread there. I wish I could find an explanation for this.

Moody and Sankey left the UK in August for a well-deserved rest back home. They worked incredibly hard over the two years he was in the UK and he seemed to have very little time off. Drummond noted Moody's schedule, "Mr Moody preaches every night in the East of London. Here is his programme: A three-mile drive to noon meeting; lunch; Bible-reading at 3.30, followed by inquiry meeting till at least five; then a five-mile drive to East End to preach to twelve thousand at 8.30; then inquiry meeting; five or six-mile drive home. This is every day this week and next — a terrible strain, which, however, he never seems to feel for a moment." 

The Earl of Shaftesbury, one of several who spoke at the farewell meeting for Moody and Sankey, thanked God publicly that Mr Moody had not been educated at Oxford, “for he had a wonderful power of getting at the hearts of men, and while the common people hear him gladly, many persons of high station have been greatly struck with the marvellous simplicity and power of his preaching.” He added that the Lord Chancellor a short time before had said to him: “The simplicity of that man’s preaching, the clear manner in which he sets forth salvation by Christ, is to me the most striking and the most delightful thing I ever knew in my life.”


How did the Awakening of 1873-75 change the Church of Great Britain? Unfortunately, I have no answer to that question. As usual. historians write a lot about the awakenings, but they never seem to look back and quantify the impact on the Church going forward. I have seen an article in 1878 that points out that there had been many conferences to try to work out "How to reach the masses," but the writer said that there had been very little fruit from them. Something that did come from the awakening is the Evangelisation Association of Scotland, the Evangelisation Society in England and Wales. "The Christian" at one time in 1878 had weekly reports from some of their evangelists. At one point they wrote that there were 130 meetings held by their evangelists on a Sunday with around 40,000 hearers. There was a greater desire by ministers to call for the help of evangelists and for individuals to evangelise their friends and neighbours, I have seen several comments from ministers saying that things will change, but nothing to show that it did. One minister wrote, "We can never be as we have been" - let us hope that that was the reality of the future.



"The Christian," a weekly newspaper that used to be called "The Revial."

"Times of Blessing," a weekly newspaper that only lasted for twelve months.

"The Life of Dwight L Moody," by his son, W R Moody, published in 1900.

"D L Moody," by his son, W R Moody (a later version), published in 1930.

“Moody without Sankey,” by John Pollock

"The American evangelists, D.L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, in Great Britain and Ireland ," Edited by John Hall and George Stuart, published in 1875.

These books heavily relied on articles in the two newspapers mentioned above.

"The Signs of Our Times," a weekly newspaper edited by M Baxter. I only came across this recently and it has more details on the Moody and Sankey mission than either of the two newspapers above.



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