1650s, "act of reviving after decline or discontinuance;" specifically from 1660s as, "the bringing back to the stage of a play which has not been presented for a considerable time;" from revive + -al (2).
The sense of "a general and extraordinary religious awakening in a community" is in Cotton Mather (1702, revival of religion); by 1818 it was used of enthusiastic religious meetings (often by Methodists) meant to inspire revival. In reference to the Victorian popularity of Gothic architecture, by 1850. Revivalist "one who promotes or leads a religious revival" is attested by 1812. Related: Revivalism.