The Bells

At All Saints we have a bell it is no longer rung but I would love to revive its chime.  Once more I dip into Durandus, that sometime Bishop, to share with you what he has to say about bells in his book ‘The Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments’.

1. Bells are brazen vessels, and were first invented in Nola, a city of Campania: wherefore the larger bells are called Campanae, from Campania the district, and the smaller Nolae, from Nola the town.

2. The reason for consecrating and ringing bells is this: that by their sound the faithful may be mutually cheered on towards their reward; …

3. You must know that bells, …do signify the silver trumpets, by which under the Old Law the people were called together unto sacrifice. … they signify that the preaching of the New Testament will be more lasting than the trumpets and sacrifices of the Old Law, namely, even unto the end of the world.

4. … the cavity of the bell denoteth the mouth of the preacher, …

5. The hardness of the metal signifieth fortitude in the mind of the preacher: … The clapper or iron, which by striking on either side maketh the sound, doth denote the tongue of the teacher, …

6. Wherefore a prelate which hath not the skill of preaching will be like unto a bell without clapper: …

7. The wood of the frame upon which the bell hangeth, doth signify the wood of our Lord’s Cross … The pegs by which the wooden frame is joined together or fastened, are the Oracles of the Prophets.  The iron cramps by which the bell is joined with the frame, denote charity, …

8. The rope hanging …beginning from the wood upon which the bell hangeth, by which is understood our Lord’s Cross, it doth thus rightly typify Holy Scripture which doth flow down from the wood of the Holy Cross.  As also the rope is composed of three strands, so doth the scripture consist of a Trinity: namely, of history, allegory, and morality. … Also the raising and lowering of the rope in ringing doth denote that Holy Scripture speaketh sometimes of high matters, sometimes of low: …The ring (or pulley) … is the crown of reward.

Durandus has more to say on when bells should be rung and should I ever get All Saints bell ringing again I might just post that then, but for now one final word about bells.

You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding round the opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it may not be torn. On its lower hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all round the lower hem, with bells of gold between them all round—a golden bell and a pomegranate alternating all round the lower hem of the robe. Aaron shall wear it when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he may not die.

Exodus 28:31-35

Hows that for a chasuble!

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