Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Bells

I have long loved the sound of church bells, especially at Christmas. The sounds of Christmas carols ringing from belfries intensifies the joy and beauty of the season as nothing else can do.

Several years ago, the last congregation I pastored was celebrating its 140th anniversary. The committee charged with making plans for the celebration decided to purchase an anniversary gift, not only for the church, but for the community around the church. After considering many options, they decided on a Carillon for the bell tower. (The church already had bells, but one’s music making is limited using four notes).

The several octaves of bells needed were far beyond the scope and resources of the church. However, research indicated that modern technology allowed one to have the music without the bells. An audio system with two to four specially designed amplifiers could be installed in the belfry and, depending on the system purchased, pre-programmed music or even CDs could be used to send bell music ringing throughout the community.

The committee met with representatives from several companies from a three state area. It finally recommended the purchase of a medium priced system for about $8,000.00. However, before the purchase could be made, the church council had to vote on it.

When the Carillon proposal was presented to the council, one of the church’s three wealthy matriarchs (don’t cringe: Jesus had them before churches did and these rich women at least partially financially supported him and his disciples) vetoed the purchase. She wanted to have the sanctuary painted at a cost of more than $20,000. The council, fearing this woman would withdraw her monetary support from the church, never voted on the purchase of the Carillon as a gift to the community. The congregation did paint the sanctuary (which wasn’t in need of repainting).

I suppose if that congregation ever wants bell music, they'll have to do it the old fashioned way:


  1. That is gorgeous. But I was hoping on of them got carried away and swung upward!


  2. I love the ringing of bells at Christmas! There is a church near me and on Christmas Eve they ring carols for hours.

  3. I almost missed this one. Since when are you writing 2 blogs on the same day?

    I know the congregation and probably the "matriarch." She was exercising her power like she did for years.

  4. Was that the congregation that had all the big bucks in the banks and decided that they "couldn't afford" a full time pastor?

  5. NATALIA: That would have been cute! I’ve only seen one person forget to let go of the bell rope and lifted up with it. That was in seminary and it we were ringing bells for an hour. The lifted ringer was the child of one of us seminarians.

    ABBY: I once lived between two churches that had carillons. It was lovely, except when both played different songs at the same time.

    EX-LOUISVILLE GUY: I suppose I’ve made two posts on the same day when I’ve encountered something neat that doesn’t require a lot of writing. Yes, I suppose you do the congregation and probably the "matriarch."

    AZSONOFAGUN: Yes, that was the congregation. They now have a “quarter time” retired pastor and still have big bucks in the bank. Only about a dozen people now come to worship.