A signal to the choir from ebullient emcee Cliff Barrows and the Greater London Crusade was under way. Billy was back, at the invitation of a group of laymen who thought “God has given him special gifts.” It was Graham’s biggest British effort since the famous Harringay meeting twelve years ago.

The opening-night crowd at the Earls Court indoor stadium was 19,000 (the hall holds 27,000), 2,000 of whom were in the choir. Oddly symbolic was the announcement that a lost and found department was operating. The meeting followed the familiar Graham pattern until he invited listeners to make a commitment or rededication by coming forward. Where the music ought to have started up, the choir and organ remained silent.

A lithe young Negro came first; then from all over the arena a steady stream of people: well-dressed, shabby, flamboyant, young, old, Oriental, European, African, at least as many men as women. They overflowed the platform area until the line was halfway up one aisle, 447 of them. It was three times the first-night response in 1954.

The second night’s meeting, aimed primarily at youth, drew 15,000, who heard a remarkable testimony halfway through from weight-lifter Paul Anderson, called the world’s strongest man. Once again, Billy Graham’s appeal was given without musical accompaniment. There were 734 inquirers, three-fourths of them under twenty-five.

Two newsmen watching such scenes were baffled. Finally one muttered a shade uneasily, “At least none of us are going forward.” “How do you explain it?” whispered the other. Answer came there none, but they had a whole month to pursue their inquiries.

The press reception in general has been more favorable than in 1954. Some news hawks have moved into Graham’s hotel, and others ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: