In August of 1742, a crowd of 50,000 gathered in Cambuslang, Scotland, for an outdoor communion service amidst the revivals of religion then erupting all throughout the Western world. In America, the Great Awakening had begun with the preaching of Jonathan Edwards in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the English evangelist George Whitefield.
Yet the broader context of the revivals was the practice of intense communion “seasons” by Scottish Presbyterians, as well as the Puritans of England and New England, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and indeed which persist to the present day in the Highlands and on the Isle of Lewis. Revivals in Scotland were frequent in older times, and, as the Dictionary of Scottish Church History & Theology says, “(they) were usually associated with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.”
These occasions typically began with preparatory preaching services Thursday through Saturday nights. The messages were cross-centered, Christ-focused, and soul-searching. Sunday morning communion was administered and Sunday and Monday evenings thanksgiving services followed.