Eighty years ago, on 15 November 1942, after months of intercession at the Bible College of Wales in Swansea, Rees Howells declared, “The Bible Lands are safe!”
To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord– Ephesians 3:10-11
It was more than twenty years ago that I first came across a copy of Vision Hymns (1941) as a student at the Bible College of Wales (BCW). The ministry was under the Directorship of Samuel Rees Howells, the son of Rees Howells. I read it with interest and quickly realised that the majority of these hymns and choruses were personal to BCW and unique as songs of praise and worship. They were acts of spiritual warfare and intercessory declarations. Some were prophetic and encapsulate the promises of God to BCW as a centre of intercession. They were written during the dark years when the Third Reich, Nazi Germany was extending its long and broad tentacles across Europe and North Africa, with its intentions beyond and its stated thousand-year reign. I also came across other BCW-related hymn books and spoke to the elder staff members regarding these spiritual songs, who were present during World War Two.
On 25 June 1942, Rees Howells had the faith to believe the enemy could never take the Holy Land (Israel). The Bible College Meeting Notes for 27 June 1942: ‘Director Making Intercession for Palestine’ (Holy Land / Israel) and on 29 June: ‘Intercession now gained for Palestine,’ the protection of the Holy Land.
I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed– Genesis 12:3
On 15 November 1942, the College Meeting Notes state: ‘Bells rung in our country this morning – and in Heaven too! Because the Bible Lands are safe!’ During the war, the ringing of Church bells ceased, because they were reserved for the warning of invasion, though could be used sparingly in jubilation!
By late 1942, it was generally considered that Hitler could no longer invade Britain, as he had been repelled in the skies during the Battle of Britain from 10 July to 31 October 1940; the 15 September being a key pivotal date. Germany invaded Russia in June 1941, overstretching herself and depleting her manpower by millions in the Russian Winters during various battles from 1941-1944.
The worship song ‘What a Cause of Praise is Ours’ (c.1948) is a personal hymn about those present at the Bible College of Wales from 1936 to 1946 of which two stanzas are included:
He defied the world’s Dictators,
Called them “the unholy three,”
And their union did He scatter,
Broke their Axis openly.
While the land of Ethiopia,
He restored so perfectly,
Gave her back her rightful monarch,
Emperor, Haile Selassie!Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer
Students and staff had fought the battles in prayer and intercession, having faith in the Holy Spirit’s leading and the Sovereignty of God. They were a tightly knit weaved community of believers who never doubted, even when the odds or reports were contrary to what faith believed and knew.
He preserved the land of Canaan,
From the Nazi threat severe,
And their plans of vile aggression,
He did thwart in Syria.
Persia and Iraq included,
And the land of Egypt too,
Ancient Bible lands of history,
He preserved them all, ’tis true.Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer
The hymn ‘We are Beset by Unseen Powers’ (c.1943-1944) is largely based on Revelation 19:11-21, the Rider on a White Horse. This is Jesus Christ the Warrior, going forth into battle alongside his angels against the Devil and his hoards of Hell in opposition. The Beast was captured along with the false prophet and both were cast alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone. However, the fourth stanza relates to Elisha, when the King of Syria surrounded the city of Dothan in Israel and the people were terribly afraid, especially Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 6:8-17). Elisha ‘answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha’ (2 Kings 16-17).
Rees Howells related this to the British Isles on the verge of being attacked and occupied by the Third Reich from 1938-1942. Through the prayers of believers, soldiers on the ground, the Royal Air Force in the skies and the Navy on the high seas, by the grace and mercy of God, Britain survived! And its Allies became victorious to help liberate Christian Europe.
Rees Howells noted how each person at the Bible College was expected to do their duty as if they were on the frontline. Those at BCW were on the frontline of spiritual battles and knew they were not fighting against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers in the heavenly places. The first stanza of ‘We are Beset by Unseen Powers:’
We are beset by unseen powers,
We do not fight alone.
The strength of heavenly hosts are ours,
They have to us been shown.
And He Who rides in majesty,
Has vestures dipped in blood,
He leads us on to victory,
He’s called the “Word of God.”Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer
God can intervene in the affairs of mankind due to believing prayer, faith and intercession. At the end of the 10pm meeting at the Bible College of Wales on 3 July 1942, Rees Howells said, “I’ve made a vow to God today, ‘I am not going to limit You.’ I’ll go to the other extreme and then He’ll have to stop me, but He said to me, ‘You’ll never go too far on the other side.’ So I am opening my mouth wide for Him to fill it. All you need to do is believe.”
Rees Howells would not have made a vow lightly to God, knowing the admonition in Scripture: ‘Do not be rash with your mouth and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in Heaven and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed – better not to vow than to vow and not pay’ (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-5).
The next day the Bible College Meeting Notes, 4 July 1942, for 3pm, is headed ‘Prayer For Alexandria’ Nehemiah 1. Rees Howells said, “Is there a man who has carried a burden for a nation and it has not touched him personally? I have never been free from the moment I started taking liability and that has been for at least twelve years now. Other people haven’t carried burdens but I have – what have I gained? Many things. Some people die in the same place they were twenty years before but I have been advancing all the time. Alexandria ought not to fall into the hands of the Germans unless it is God’s will. [Underlined in original typed notes of 1942].
“If Cardiff was being attacked and Swansea would be the next town, how would I act this afternoon? I would not let the Throne go until God delivered. It is very difficult to carry a burden for something that doesn’t touch you personally. You will never weep unless something touches you vitally. Unless the Holy Ghost is dwelling in you, you cannot be touched like that for the Kingdom…. These Bible Lands must be protected.”
And armies great do follow Him,
Upon their horses white,
And clothed are they in linen fine,
So spotless clean and bright.
In righteousness He maketh war,
The True and Holy One,
In judgment He is ever sure,
O Lord ride on, ride on!Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer
If Hitler captured Egypt then he would have had a straight road to the Holy Lands (via the Sinai Peninsula), the place God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, the Jews for perpetuity.
Rees Howells continued, “We want to say to Him today, that unless there is a special reason for Egypt to fall, don’t let Alexandria fall, but give Rommel [Nazi General] a set-back. Can I carry the same burden today for Alexandria as I would if Swansea was being attacked?
“Nehemiah 5:6-19, the Lord is really against the Nazis, because the Devil is incarnated in them and they have no mercy. There is no need for the Nazis to approach any nearer to the Promised Land, they are near enough to put fear into the Jews.
“Nehemiah 6:15-16, I would like to plead with God this afternoon and ask Him to keep Alexandria. Why should our men in the east fight more than we do here? I have never once taken advantage of our liberty and that will be to my credit. We are doing more work in prayer than in any other way. There is something about the meeting which makes one think we can prevail. Why does He bring this man before us? Let us prevail upon God this afternoon.”
His eyes are like a flame of fire,
His foot like brass do burn.
And many crowns His head attire,
His name no man can learn.
And from His mouth proceeds a sword,
He knows the wrath of God,
He’s King of Kings, & Lord of Lords,
He rules with iron rod.Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer
At the 7pm meeting, Judges chapter 4 was read. Rees Howells said, “How did Deborah know this? When did she come to know God had changed His mind? The enemy fought me having the meeting this afternoon and when he does that, I know there is something in it. I came to the meeting and felt great liberty to pray for Alexandria that it won’t fall into the hands of the Nazis.
“The Devil says, ‘Don’t pray the place has fallen,’ and I always know then that it is the opposite to that. Is he stopping Rommel to advance any further now? Is this prayer this afternoon of the Holy Ghost that the enemy is not to take that Port of Alexandria? You must climb up to the Divine intervention. I’m speaking to all of you who took a real part in the prayers against the enemy, praying him down to the Mediterranean, praying him to Russia, praying him out of Moscow! Is this the prayer of the Holy Spirit? The meeting this afternoon was called and it was different to any other meeting we’ve had since Moscow.”
At the 10pm meeting, 2 Chronicles chapter 20 was read. Rees Howells said, “Three great armies came against Jehoshaphat, and he was not prepared for a battle, so he called his people together for prayer. I can see that if God is looking down on that He is bound to deliver. I have had to be delivered daily for twenty years [1923-1942], and I don’t remember once that I doubted. The moment that people with Jehoshaphat, began to sing and to praise God worked – it’s not the singing, but it is the believing, and it is that which brings the praise. These people were not near the enemy, so it was no different to us meeting the enemy in Swansea or Alexandria – it would be all the same to them, because they had come through and believed. Can the Lord give you the assurance that this Rommel is not to take Alexandria?”
On 5 July 1942, the heading for the Bible College Meeting Notes for 9pm: Director Comes Through In This Meeting And Says, “The Enemy Will Never Take Alexandria, Egypt, Cairo Or Abyssinia [Ethiopia]. At the end of the meeting, Rees Howells prayed, “I’ve been stirred to my depths today. I’ve been like a man ploughing through sand, but now I am on top of it; now I am gripping it; I am handling it, I cannot shake it!”
Fear Not! For with us there are more,
Than those that with them be.
We are like him who prayed and saw,
God’s hosts round His city!
Horses and chariots of fire,
Encamp around us still,
And in their watch they never tire,
They guard us from all ill.Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer
On 8 February 1945 at the Bible College of Wales, Rees Howells said, “I had never had anything to do with war, and here He told me to put this in print [holding up a copy of God Challenges the Dictators, printed in 1939] and send it out. And if I had only said what I put on the cover of the book it would be enough. Well the dictators have been scattered, they nearly conquered the world. The Lord allowed them to do it, and still He continued to say the doom of the Nazis. Then He came in again and said, ‘They will never invade Christian England.’ Again He stepped in and said, ‘The Nazis will never take the five Bible Lands.’ [Holy Land / Israel, Syria, Persia (Iran), Iraq and Egypt]. How could He say it beforehand? Then He said, ‘The Russians and the Nazis would weaken each other down to nothing.’ …A man had nothing to do with this.”
Based on work within Rees Howells, Vision Hymns of Spiritual Warfare, Intercessory Declarations by Mathew Backholer and is used by permission.
- Books About Rees Howells
- Rees Howells Books and Articles
- Current Events from a Christian Perspective