The parish of LLangan is closely associated with David Jones – its rector for 43 years, from 1767 until his death in 1810.
David Jones was one of the most powerful and influential preachers of his day, drawing groups of thousands to his services. His charismatic preaching and beautiful voice led to him being known as the ‘angel of LLangan.’ He was known throughout Wales and often preached in Bristol and London. But where did his journey start and what inspired him with such passion?
David was born in 1736 to a farming family in Carmarthenshire. David’s parents were very religious and their wish was that their eldest son would enter the ministry whilst David, as the second eldest, would help on the farm.
But fate took a hand when the young David fell into a vat of boiling milk. He was very badly burned and nearly died.
David could no longer do heavy work – so the roles were reversed and his elder brother became the farmer whilst David went into the church.
David’s parents did not have enough money to send him to university, but he got into Carmarthen Grammar School and studied hard, becoming a Deacon by the time he was 22. He then served as a Curate, firstly in North Wales, then Brecon later at Caldicot in Monmouth.
It was during David’s time at Monmouth that he was heavily influenced by William Read of Trefethin who introduced him to the writing of Puritans such as John Flavel. This gave David a deeper and more personal understanding of the Gospels and changed David’s style of preaching from one of explaining text in the bible to an impassioned anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Countess Huntington, Source: Wikipedia
David moved to Crudwell in Wiltshire and came to the attention of the influential Countess of Huntington.
Through her efforts David, at the age of 33, came to the rural village of LLangan as the rector of St Canna’s and St Marys Hill.
At this time LLangan was a spiritual backwater with a population of no more than 300. Within a few years though – such was the power of David’s evangelical preaching – that crowds of thousands of people would come from all over Glamorgan to hear him preach.
Often David would address them through a window, or on the steps of the medieval pillar cross in the grounds of the church.
David was 45 when he married Sinah Bowen in 1771; they lived in the rectory at Coychurch and had three children: Maria, Daniel and David Bowen. Sarah died in 1792, aged 60. David later remarried and lived at Manorowen.
David also preached at local fairs and other gatherings, where there was a high incident of drunkenness and fighting. This included the annual horse fair at St Mary’s Hill where he converted a great number of people
David was an enigma – he was a rector in an Anglican Church who was a revivalist and a passionate preacher with a leaning towards Methodism. David started to arrange home meetings in nearby farms. By 1775 the demand for these meetings was so great that David was compelled to raise the sum of £282 to build Salem Chapel in Pencoed. Salem became the focal point for Methodism in the Vale.
David was passionate about preventing the church from dividing into factions, but despite all his efforts the Methodist movement split from the Anglican church a year before David’s death in 1810.
David was a man of God and a man of peace, He spoke from the heart and his importance in the religious and spiritual life of Wales cannot be countered. His preaching took him to all corners of Wales and to many English cities where people would walk or ride from miles to hear his voice. Little wonder that he was known as the angel of LLangan.
David’s influence on the church did not end there as his great- grandson Llewellyn Llewellyn became the first Dean of St. David’s Cathedral in 1840.
William Williams (Williams Pantycelyn) sang about Jones Llangan:-
“The stones melted with his freshness and in the strength of his sweet gospel he made the most hardened oak bend flexibly like the rushes”.