The Long Resonance of Bronze

Christians once ascribed powerful properties to bells—the power to drive away demons, for example,  and still today some Christians believe they embody the voice of God. Before Christians, the members of ancient civilizations ascribed magico-sacral properties to bells too. Why were bells thought to hold so much sacred power? I never thought about this tooContinue reading “The Long Resonance of Bronze”

Bell Ringing Galore in Chicago, Part II

I’ve got a couple of pics from the change ringers from St. Mary’s of Rawmarsh to share. There were tight quarters in the room, so I wasn’t able to get a picture with everyone at once. Those blurred ropes mean lots of movement! The whole tower gently shook as they rang the bells. They wereContinue reading “Bell Ringing Galore in Chicago, Part II”

Bell Ringing Galore in Chicago

You’ve heard about the rare occurrence of planets lining up in the sky? There is a bell equivalent, which I’ll call “bell alignment,” in which you can hear two different sets of bells in a row from the same listening spot! And this Sunday, we will have the rare chance to hear a ring andContinue reading “Bell Ringing Galore in Chicago”

Ringing for Climate Change Action

Today’s Youth Climate Change Strike has captured the attention of the world, as well it should! My support goes out to them for real transformation at the national and global level to mitigate the environmental catastrophe awaiting us. And I’m pleased that faith communities from Cape Cod in Massachusetts will ring out their support ofContinue reading “Ringing for Climate Change Action”

“Let’s Ring Freedom Bells!”

It’s early (or late) to talk about Independence Day, but think of this as your hint of what’s coming up next year. On July 4, 1776, our first VP John Adams announced that our nation’s independence should be celebrated with the ringing of bells. For decades afterwards, bells were a source of celebratory sound onContinue reading ““Let’s Ring Freedom Bells!””

Value of Bells: Connection to Histories

The fourth main value of bells I perceive is their connection to histories. The first history I mean is the particular history of Western Europe. Today we are familiar with one main use of tower bells that dates to the middle ages—to signal to faithful Christians. For example, tower bells would signal when to prayContinue reading “Value of Bells: Connection to Histories”

Value of Bells: Public Sound Art

I have already touched on the third value of bells for us today—as public sound art. The sounds of tower bells are the aural equivalent to the visual arts on display in public. As public visual arts provide an aesthetic experience for the entire community, so the same goes for the sounds, and in particularContinue reading “Value of Bells: Public Sound Art”

Value of Bells: Soundmark

R. Murray Schafer (no relation) coined the term soundmark, meaning a sound unique to an area, analogous to a landmark. Taking it a step further, Schafer argued that soundmarks should be preserved, since they define the acoustics of the surrounding community. And I agree! Tower bells fit this description. Bells are not so ubiquitous (atContinue reading “Value of Bells: Soundmark”

Value of Bells: Serendipitous Beauty

For the next few days, I’ll post on the most important reasons for bells in our current time. I look forward to your responses in the comments! One reason I think tower bells are important today is the occasion they provide for serendipitous beauty. A passerby is walking along, minding her own business, when sheContinue reading “Value of Bells: Serendipitous Beauty”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Exit Strategy [Update]

Now that we’ve had a few days to examine the dress, the flowers, the fascinators, etc. of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, let’s take a listen to their exit out of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. I hear the guard announcing the couple, people cheering, a woman(?) screaming (really not sureContinue reading “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Exit Strategy [Update]”