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”

Homage to MLK Jr.

The National Civil Rights Museum is calling on churches and institutions in the United States and beyond to ring their bells to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On April 4, 2018, bells will ring to commemorate 50 years after Dr. King’s death and his legacy in the Civil Rights Movement. BellsContinue reading “Homage to MLK Jr.”

The Oldest Bell in Chicago

On Sunday, December 10th, the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Chicago celebrated the 40th anniversary of the installation of their single bell. This is no ordinary bell, however. This bell was bought from St. Mary’s Parish Church in Everton, Bedfordshire, England. Misfortune for St. Mary’s meant a welcome opportunity for the Church of OurContinue reading “The Oldest Bell in Chicago”

Bell Founding of Beit Chabab, Lebanon

This recent find about the last bell founder in Lebanon piqued my interest in bells in the middle east. I was intrigued by the explanation that the casting of big bells didn’t arrive in Lebanon until the Crusaders came through in the twelfth century.* Hadn’t they been making bells already for a long time? Yes,Continue reading “Bell Founding of Beit Chabab, Lebanon”

Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago II

Now onto the bells of the Metropolitan Tower at 310 South Michigan Avenue, which I alluded to last time. Emily Nunn, Chicago Tribune reporter, had the enviable opportunity in 2007 to see the top of the tower–and the bells–up close. Her article lays out most of what I know. I’ll add that these clock-chime bellsContinue reading “Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago II”

Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago

I’ve written about the digital bells you hear in downtown Chicago here and here, but there are other bells…real bronze bells, up in those tall skyscrapers. There’s some in the Metropolitan Tower, which is a blog post for another time, and there are four in the 11 South LaSalle Street Building, otherwise known as theContinue reading “Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago”

Buried Alive, with Bells

Happy Halloween! Bells have a sinister side, too, you know. As my colleague Tiffany Ng has argued in her doctoral dissertation, in cultural representations bells have been associated with utopias and dystopias—death, decay, and all the rest of it. And we don’t even have to look at cultural representations—we can just look at the macabreContinue reading “Buried Alive, with Bells”

The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire II

Thanks, B.D., for passing along these dramatic details about the Great Chicago Fire and the courthouse bell! Donald L. Miller, author of City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, explains the particulars. He does it so well, no need for me to paraphrase. Note the name of the watchman/bellContinue reading “The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire II”

The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire

Dear loyal readers, I have a scrumptious treat to share with you! Remember Henry Rincker? Chicago’s own bell founder active in the mid-nineteenth century? We don’t know much about Rincker and his metallurgical output in Chicago, but we know he did cast a bell for the combined courthouse and city hall. This government building, constructedContinue reading “The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire”

Tsar Bell Finally Rings

Update 4.18.16–and here is how the Tsar Bell sounds! The folks over at UC Berkeley have done it again–they’ve dreamed up a scintillating, beautiful project with bells at the core. See their “Natural Frequencies” and “Polartide” performances from recent years. And this project is happening TODAY at 12 p.m. PDT. You can catch it liveContinue reading “Tsar Bell Finally Rings”