John Hyde, better known as "The Praying Hyde," was born in Carrollton, Illinois.
His father was a Presbyterian minister who faithfully proclaimed the Gospel
message and called for the Lord to thrust out laborers into His harvest. He
prayed this prayer not only in the pulpit but also in the home, around the
family altar. This made an indelible impression on the life of young John,
as he grew up in that atmosphere. John was graduated from Cathage College
with such high honors that he was elected to a position on the faculty. However,
he had heard the divine call to the regions beyond, and was not disobedient
to the heavenly vision. So he resigned his position and entered the Presbyterian
seminary. In Chicago, he was graduated in the spring of 1892 and sailed for
India the following October.
His ministry of prayer in India during the next 20 years was such that the
natives referred to him as "the man who never sleeps." Some termed him "the
apostle of prayer." But more familiarly he was known as "the praying Hyde."
He was all these and more, for deep in India's Punjab, he envisioned his Master,
and face to face with the eternal, he learned lessons of prayer which were
amazing. Often he spent 30 days and nights in prayer, and many
times was on his knees in deep intercession for 36 hours at a time.
His work among the villages was very successful, in that for many years he
won four to ten people a day to the Lord Jesus Christ. Hyde was instrumental
in establishing the annual Sialkote Conferences, from which thousands of missionaries
and native workers returned to the stations, empowered anew and afresh for
the work of reaching India with the Gospel. Hyde's
life of sacrifice, humility, love for souls and deep spirituality, as well
as his example in the ministry of intercession, inspired many others to effect
these graces in their own lives and ministries. He died February 17, 1912.
His last words were, "Shout the victory of Jesus Christ!" Rodney (Gipsy) Smith
BORN: March 31, 1860
Died: August 4, 1947 Wanstead, England Atlantic Ocean
LIFE SPAN: 87 years, 4 months, 4 days
Gipsy Smith was, perhaps, the best loved evangelist of all time. When he would
give his life story, the crowds that came to hear usually overflowed the halls
and auditoriums. His trips across the Atlantic Ocean were so numerous that
historians seemingly disagree on the exact number.
Born in a gypsy tent six miles northeast of London, at Epping Forest, he
received no education. The family made a living selling baskets, tinware and
clothespegs. His father, Cornelius, and his mother, Mary (Polly) Welch, provided
a home that was happy in the gypsy wagon, despite the fact that father played
his violin in the pubs at this time. Young Rodney would dance and collect
money for the entertainment. Yet he never drank or smoked, which may have
contributed to his longevity. Cornelius was in and out of jail
for various offenses, usually because he couldn't afford to pay his fines.
Here he first heard the gospel from the lips of a prison chaplain. He tried
to explain to his dying wife what he heard.
Rodney was still a small lad when his mother died from smallpox. A child's
song that she had heard sung twenty years earlier about Jesus came back to
her, comforting her as she passed on. Her dying words were, "I believe. Be
a good father to my children. I know God will take care of my children." Rodney
never forgot seeing his mother buried by lantern-light at the end of a lane
in Hertfordshire. God did take care of the children as the four girls and
two boys (Rodney was the fourth child) grew up under the stern eye of their
father. They all went into Christian service.
Following his wife's death, Cornelius had no power to be good. One day he
met his brothers, Woodlock and Bartholomew, and found they too hungered after
God. At a tavern at the Barnwell end of town, they stopped and talked to the
woman innkeeper about God. She groaned that she was troubled also and ran
upstairs to find a copy of Pilgrim's Progress.
Hearing this read to them, they decided this is what they wanted. Cornelius
encountered a road worker who was a Christian and inquired where a gospel
meeting might be found. He was invited to the Latimer Road Mission were he
eagerly attended the meeting with all his children. As the people sang the
words, "I do believe, I will believe that Jesus died for me," and There
Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, Cornelius fell to the floor unconscious.
Soon he jumped up and said, "I am converted! Children, God has made a new
man of me. You have a new father!" Rodney ran out of the church thinking his
father had gone crazy. The two brothers of the father were also converted-Bartholomew,
the same night. Soon the three formed an evangelistic team and went roaming
over the countryside preaching and singing the gospel. Now Cornelius would
walk a mile on Saturday night for a bucket of water rather than travel on
Sunday! From 1873 on, "The Converted Gypsies" were used in a wonderful way
with Cornelius living until age ninety-one.
Soon after their conversion, Christmas came, and the six children asked their
father, "What are we going to have tomorrow?" The father sadly replied, "I
do not know, my boy." The cupboard was bare and purse was empty. The father
would no longer play the fiddle in his accustomed saloons. Falling on his
knees, he prayed, then told the his children, "I do not know what we will
have for Christmas dinner, but we shall sing." And sing, they did... Then
we'll trust in the Lord, And He will provide; Yes, we'll trust in the
Lord, And He will provide. A knock sounded on the side of the van. "It is
I," said Mr. Sykes, the town missionary. "I have come to tell you that the
Lord will provide. God is good, is He not?" Then he told them that three legs
of mutton and other groceries awaited them and their relatives in the town.
It took a wheelbarrow to bring home the load of groceries and the grateful
gypsies never knew whom God used to answer their prayers. Prayer now took
on a new meaning, as the teenager heard father pray, "Lord, save my Rodney."
Rodney's conversion as a sixteen-year-old came as a result of a combination
of things. The witness of his father, the hearing of Ira Sankey sing, the
visit to the home of John Bunyan in Bedford all contributed. Standing at the
foot of the statue of Bunyan, Smith vowed he would live for God and meet his
mother in heaven.
A few days later in Cambridge, he attended the Primitive Methodist Chapel
on Fitzroy treet. George Warner, the preacher, gave the invitation and Rodney
went forward. Somebody whispered, "Oh, it's only a gypsy boy." This was November
17, 1876, and he rushed home to tell his father that he had been converted.
He got a Bible, English dictionary and Bible dictionary and carried them everywhere
causing people to laugh. "Never you mind," he would say, "One day I'll be
able to read them," adding, "and I'm going to preach too. God has called me
to preach." He taught himself to read and write and began to practice preaching.
One Sunday he went into a turnip field and preached to the turnips. He would
sing hymns to the people he met and was known as the singing gypsy boy. At
seventeen, he stood on a small corner some distance from the gypsy wagon and
gave a brief testimony...his first attempt at preaching.
One day at a convention at the Christian Mission (later called the Salvation
Army) headquarters in London, William Booth noticed the gypsies and realized
that young Rodney had a promising future. He asked the young lad to preach
on the spot. Smith sang a solo and gave a good testimony. Though he didn't
try to be funny, there was a touch of sunshine in his ministry. On June 25,
1877, he accepted the invitation of Booth to be an evangelist with and for
the Mission. His youngest sister was converted in one of his early meetings.
For six years (1877-1882), he served on street corners and mission halls in
such areas as Whitby, Sheffield, Bolton, Chatham, Hull, Derby and Hanley.
He was married on December 17, 1879 to Annie E. Pennock, one of his converts
from Whitby, and their first assignment together was at Chatham. Here the
crowd grew from 13 to 250 in nine months. Their first child, Albany, was born
December 31, 1880. Then it was six months in Hull in 1881. Here the name "Gipsy"
Smith first began to circulate. Meetings at the Ice House grew rapidly and
soon 1,500 would attend an early Sunday prayer meeting. A meeting for converts
drew 1,000. Then came Derby with defeats and discouragements. However, the
Moody 1881 visit in London was a big encouragement. Their last last move was
to Hanley, in December 1881. He considered this his second home for the rest
of his life. By June 1882, great crowds were coming and the work was growing.
On July 31st a gold watch was given him and about $20.00 was presented to
his wife by the warm-hearted folks there. Acceptance of these gifts was a
breach of the rules and regulations of the Salvation Army, and for this, he
was dismissed from the Army. The love in Hanley was returned by Smith, for
when his second son was born on August 5th, he named him Alfred Hanley. His
eight assignments with the Salvation Army had produced 23,000 decisions and
his crowds were anywhere up to 1,500.
Now Cambridge became Gipsy Smith's permanent home for the rest of his life.
However, the urging o the people at Hanley to return as an independent preacher
was strong. So he returned-ministering there for four years. Crowds reached
4,000 at the Imperial Circus building which was used for three months during
this time. These were the largest crowds in the country outside of London.
At one pre-service prayer meeting in 1882, the crowd of 300, including Smith,
toppled to the room below as the floor collapsed under them injuring seventy
people! In 1883 came his first trip abroad with a visit to Sweden and on February
1, 1884, his third child was born...a girl named Rhoda Zillah. His brief appearance
on the program of the Congregational Union of England and Wales Convention
swamped him with several offers. Because of this, he traveled extensively
from 1886 to 1888, hampered for nine months during 1886 with a throat ailment.
On January 18, 1889, Gipsy Smith left Liverpool for his first trip to America
arriving later in the month on a wet Sunday morning. He didn't know a soul
in America. He had nothing but credentials from friends back home which he
used to introduce himself to some church leaders. Similar to moody's experience
some years earlier in England, the ones who had originally invited him had
either died or become indifferent. Dr. Prince of the Nostrand Avenue Methodist
Episcopal Church o Brooklyn opened up his pulpit for a three week crusade
with him. The 1,500 seat auditorium was jammed and between 300 and 400 people
found the Lord. Following this, he traveled from Boston to San Francisco thrilling
large audiences with his story and message. When he returned to England later
in the year, he became assistant to F.S. Collier, of the Manchester Wesleyan
Mission. Meetings were greatly used of God in a ten day campaign there. The
midnight serve saw people leaving theatres and bars to come in. Busy as he
now was, he never grew tired of visiting gypsy encampments whenever he could
on both sides of the Atlantic.
His second trip to America was in August 1891. The old James Street Methodist
Church of New York, with Pastor Stephen Merrit, hosted his first meeting in
September. There was a great revival. He went to Ocean Grove, New Jersey,
a Methodist campground with a 10,000 seat auditorium. After a couple sermons
here where he made many new friends, he returned to the Brooklyn church mentioned
previously for a repeat crusade. Then a month-long crusade was held at the
Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church of New York with Pastor James Roscoe Day.
Many were saved. A good series followed back in Edinburg, Scotland in 1892.
From this series came the Gypsy Gospel Wagon Mission, devoted to evangelistic
work amongst his own people. In 1892, he took his third trip
to America, this time with his wife.
He was invited to hold special "drawing room meetings" for some of the elite
in one of the largest mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City. It was not
a public meeting, but personal letters were sent to various aristocratic ladies
of New York, inviting them to be present. There were to be six meetings and
at the first there were 175 ladies present. Facing Mrs. John D. Rockefeller,
and such, he simply preached on "Repentance." He said, "I only remembered
that they were sinners needing a Savior." He visited Ocean Grove, Lynn, Massachusetts,
and Philadelphia in meetings sponsored by the Methodists. The newspaper coverage
was good to Gypsy in a united campaign in Yonkers, New York. Denver, Colorado
was exceedingly generous to them. From September, 1893 to January, 1894, he
returned to Glasgow, Scotland for a seven-week crusade in seven different
churches over a five-month period. The whole city was stirred.
On May 22, 1894, Gipsy Smith arrived in Australia and began a six-week campaign
in Adelaide. Then on to Melbourne and Sydney where he received a cable that
his wife was very sick. This aborted his visit here after only three months,
but 2,000 people came to his sendoff. Stopping in New York, the news was that
his wife was some better so he spent time at Ocean Grove and in an Indianapolis
crusade. It was here that an old man met Gipsy, suddenly reached up and felt
Gipsy's head, saying, "I am trying to find your bumps, so that I can find
the secret of your success." Smith replied, "You must come down here," and
placed the man's hand upon his heart. Home, in November, he found his wife
regaining her health. In 1895 he went to London for three months and then
on to Alexander MacLaren's church in Manchester. Thorough preparation here
produced 600 converts in an eight-day meeting. Then it was on to other towns,
Swansee, Wales and back to Edinburgh, Scotland.
On January 1, 1896 he made his fifth trip to America and held a great campaign
in the Peoples Temple in Boston. This was the city's largest Protestant Church,
with Pastor James Body Brady. Gipsy saw a sign outside the church, Gipsy
Smith, the Greatest Evangelist in the World. He made them take it down.
The four-week crusade went seven weeks with 800 being received into the church.
He then had a good campaign with Pastor Hugh Johnstone at the Metropolitan
Episcopal Church of Washington, D.C. There he met President Grover Cleveland,
one of the two presidents he was to meet, and also had blind 70-year-old Fanny
Crosby on his platform one night, singing one of her hymns. Upon his return
home, he was made a special missionary of the National Free Church Council
from 1897 to 1912. Staying in England for a while, his 1899 crusade at Luton
had 1,100 converts and his 1900 crusade at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in
London had 1,200 converts. A Birmingham, England crusade resulted in 1,500
One of the highlights of his life was his trip to South Africa in 1904 (age
44). He took his wife along. He daughter, Zillah, was the soloist. They spent
six months there. He closed out in Cape Town on May 10th seeing some 3,000
come to the inquiry rooms during his crusade there. A tent meeting in Joannesburg
started on June 9th in a 3,000 seat tent. He finally left in September, and
it was estimated that 300,000 attended his meetings with 18,000 decisions
for Christ during the whole African tour. The 1906 crusade in
Boston, Massachusetts was one of his most renown. Under the auspices of the
Boston Evangelical Alliance and personal sponsorship of A.Z. Conrad, Smith
conducted 50 meetings at Tremont Temple attended by 116,500 people. Decision
cards totaled 2,290.
In 1908 and 1909 France was his burden. Speaking to the cream of society
at the Paris Opera House, he saw 150 decisions made. In 1911 and 1912 he was
back in America working with the Men and Religion Forward Movement. Duing
World War I, he was back in France beginning in 1914 and for three and a half
years ministered under the Y.M.C.A. auspices to the English troops there,
often visiting the front lines. The result of this? King George VI made him
a member of the Order of the British Empire.
In 1922 the Nashville, Tennessee crusade seemed to achieve great heights
of pulpit power. He had 6,000 black people out at a special service.
Once when preaching to blacks only in Dallas, someone called out, "What
color are we going to be in heaven? Shall we be black or white?" Gipsy replied,
"My dear sister, we are going to be just like Christ."
An "amen" rang out all over the hall. In 1924, his crusade
at the Royal Albert Hall in London had 10,000 attending nightly for the eight-day
meeting. In 1926 he made his second trip around the world. In
Australia and New Zealand, radio greatly enlarged his ministry. In seven months
he accumulated 80,000 decision cards from the large cities such as Sydney,
Melbourne, Auckland, etc., as well as in areas of Tasmania. His twenty-fifth
trip to the U.S.A. was in 1928 with his son, Albany, who was also a preacher.
They visited many churches. In Long Beach, California, he preached in a tent
seating over 5,000. He also visited Toronto for the first time since 1909.
England was not responding to union crusades which Smith deemed necessary,
so he was back in America in 1929. Now almost seventy, he traveled from Atlanta
to Los Angeles with great power. He spoke to 10,000 people at Ocean Grove.
San Antonio, Texas had 10,000 decision cards signed in three weeks. One of
his greatest Crusades was held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in a tobacco
warehouse seating 6,000. Fifteen thousand attended his last meeting with the
total of decision cards for the whole crusade being 27,500.
A large youth crusade was conducted in London in 1931.
The year 1934 found him at an open air meeting near the spot where his gypsy
mother died. Some 3,500 heard him. A church was started there as a result,
called the North Methodist Mission. In June, 1935, he had a rally at Epping
Forest near the spot where he was born. Ten thousand showed up to hear him
talk about his life. His 1936 tour of America featured a great crusade in
Elizabeth, New Jersey with 5,000 attending the last night which was the 60th
anniversary of his conversion! Hundreds were saved. His favorite song, He
Is Mine, was sung. Another great Texas crusade held at Dallas in the
Dalantenary Fairgrounds resulted in 10,000 decisions. Gipsy Smith's wife,
Annie, died in 1937 at the age of 79 while he was in America.
All of their children turned out well: a minister, an evangelist, and a soloist.
Harold Murray was his constant friend and biographer for thirty years and
was pianist for him starting with the First World War. Front
page headlines on June 2, 1938 carried the news of the 78-year-old widower
marrying Mary Alice Shaw on her 27th birthday. This, of course, brought some
criticism. But it was a good marriage, for she helped him in his meetings,
sang, did scretarial work, and later nursed him when his health failed. He
toured the United States and Canada from 1939 to 1945. In 1945 they went back
to England. He preached a bit, but the country was preoccupied with recovery
from the Second World War.
Gipsy was now very tired, and, thinking the sunshine of Florida might be
good for his health, they embarked again for America. Three hours out of New
York, he died on the Queen Mary, stricken by a heart attack. Some say this
was his 45th crossing of the Atlantic. His funeral was held August 8, 1947
in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York. A memorial with a plaque
was unveiled on July 2, 1949 at Mill Plain, Epping Forest, England, his birthplace.
So ends the life of one who once said, "I didn't go through your colleges
and seminaries. They wouldn't have me...but I have been to the feet of Jesus
were the only true scholarship is learned." And learned it was-to even compel
Queen Victoria of England to write him a letter. Gipsy never
wrote a sermon out for preaching purposes. Only once did he use notes-when
he needed some Prohibition facts.
Smith wrote several books: As Jesus Passed By*(1905), Gipsy
Smith: His Work and Life (1906), Evangelistic Talks (1922),
Real Religion (1929), The Beauty of Jesus (1932) and
The Lost Christ. He would sing as well as he preached.
Sometimes he would interrupt his sermon and burst into song. Thousands wept
as he sag such songs as, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah with tears
running down his cheeks, or such as This Wonderful Saviour of Mine and
Jesus Revealed in Me, a song that he wrote: Christ
the Transforming Light, Touches this heart of mine, Piercing
the darkest night, Making His glory shine. Chorus: Oh,
to reflect His grace, Causing the world to see, Love that will
glow Til others shall know Jesus revealed in me.
Another song that he wrote was Not Dreaming. This was written
while he was resting in a corner of a railway compartment. He was reflecting
on all the wonderful events of a recent campaign and some teenagers said,
"Oh, he's only dreaming." He soon had a song to give the world...
The world says I'm dreaming, but I know 'tis Jesus Who
saves me from bondage and sin's guilty stain; He is my Lover,
my Saviour, my Master, 'Tis He who has freed me from guilt and
its pain. Chorus: Let me dream on if I am dreaming;
Let me dream on, My sins are gone; Night turns to dawn,
Love's light is beaming, So if I'm dreaming, Let me dream on.
Other hymns written were, Thank God for You,
and Mother of Mine. C. Austin Miles wrote But This I Know,
and dedicated it to Smith. B.D. Ackley composed the music for Let
the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me, and dedicated it to Smith.
Although he was a Methodist, ministers of all denominations loved him. It
is said that he never had a meeting without conversions. The material contained
in this publication is purposely not copyrighted. You are free to make copies
for others. May God be glorified.