The Lewis Revival

"They were all filled with awe and praised God..." Luke 7.16


Around the same time as Tom Allan was Tell(ing) Scotland, the Holy Spirit was moving in the Outer Hebrides. Many have heard of the Lewis Revival of 1949-52, yet not everything happened in the way that is often assumed. For a start it was not an isolated incident; it was one of a number of revivals which have been sweeping through the Western Isles for the best part of two centuries. Credit is given to two old ladies for "praying-in" the revival; yet those who were present insist that multitudes were praying for revival at that time. Some wish to draw attention to behavioural anomalies more commonly associated with Charismatic-Pentecostalism; these did occur but less frequently than in the previous revival of 1939. One name which is invariably invoked in connection with the events of 1949-52 is that of the Rev'd Duncan Campbell; he was certainly a powerful influence but the revival was underway before he arrived and continued after his departure.


For those who experienced it, the Lewis Revival (which included Harris!) was focused on God. It had its detractors, yet whole communities were swept up in awareness of the presence of God - even among those who would not have called themselves Christians. Unprecedented numbers did give their lives to Christ and remarkably few back-slid. Among the hall-marks of the Lewis Revival was the irrepressible joy which came over those affected and never left them. I can testify to that as several of my colleagues when I started in ministry were products of the revival and, looking back, it is true that each was possessed of an otherworldly joy. Why is that part of the country seemingly disposed to revival? How did God use the likes of Duncan Campbell to such dramatic effect? Can we learn anything from the events of 1949-52? Is there something we can do to "pray in" revival here and now?

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