Revivals are powerful explosions of popular religious fervour which can occur at periodic intervals within the life-cycle of a particular church or denomination. During the nineteenth century, revivals lost much of their spontaneous and ecstatic character and became routine events within the average church calendar. Starting in 1859, the year of the great revival in Ulster, and ending in 1905, with the outbreak of the revival in Wales, this book examines the phenomenon of revivalism in a period of decline. Even within this period of decline, revivals continued to be popular events for those within the evangelical community. Prayer services, week-day meetings, alternative venues and popular music were all used by evangelicals to provoke an outburst of revival fervor. As well, revivals were increasingly conducted by a growing number of full-time professionals.
This book explores the changing character of late nineteenth-century revivalism by looking at those who promoted it, such as working-class men, visiting American preachers, like Moody and Sankey, and a small, but significant number of women. This book also explores the response to this more 'professionalised' revivalism from within the evangelical community. Evangelicals had deeply contradictory attitudes towards the purpose and functioning of revivals. They were torn between their desire for renewed religious vitality and their concern for ecclesiastical structures and spiritual propriety, and as a result, revivalism was consistently marginalized as a method of promoting church growth.
Religious Revival in Britain and Ireland 1859-1905
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