A flurry of discordant sound announced the arrival of several sections of the bell choir.
“Move it, you three. You’re late and we haven’t got much time,” chimed the Bell Master from his place on the bottom rung of the carillon.
“Nag, nag, nag,” whispered the D flat to his buddy, C, as they climbed into their places on the top level. “What’s the hurry, anyway? Clang’s got his clapper in a knot for sure this morning.”
“Morning? It’s still dark outside,” protested the F major, breathlessly hauling himself up behind the others.
The smaller bells finally got themselves into place, just as Clang struck the note that indicated readiness and silence in the ranks. He looked around, carefully checking to make sure no one was missing. Worse than a faulty note was no note at all.
“Where’s Tinkle?” he boomed from his assigned spot.
Tinkle was the littlest bell of all. Her spot was high up at the top of the carillon.
Like an evil wind brushing through the tower, the rustle of the bells created dissonance as everyone looked around, hunting for Tinkle.
“I’m here sir. Just polishing, Bell Master.” Her clear, high sound rang out as Tinkle took her place at the apex of the musical arrangement.
“That girl takes herself too seriously. ‘Just polishing, Bell Master.’ As if fingerprints made any difference to anyone,” mimicked the D flat.
“You have something to share with us?” came Clang’s voice from down below.
Everyone froze. More than once Clang had said out loud that he wished they never had to have contact with their human counterparts—the evil always rubbed off a bit, like fingerprints on the burnished surface of a bell.
“Uhmmmmm, no sir. I was just, well, wondering what all the rush was about,” stuttered the offender. “It’s not even daylight yet.”
“Well, if—and I know keeping time for you doesn’t usually include knowing what day it is—you had been paying attention during rehearsals, you would have remembered that dawn today is the biggest moment of our year. Today we bring hope to the world.”
From somewhere in the middle of the bevy of bells came the dulcet tones of one of the G’s. “But, boss, do you really think anyone listens to us? It’s nasty out there. Everyone knows what happened to poor Liberty. Those humans are a mean lot and we don’t seem to be making much of an impact.”
There were a couple of chuckles from the group at G’s unintentional play on notes. The subdued merriment stopped as Clang’s clapper sounded for silence.
“I’ll admit that I sometimes have my doubts as to whether anyone gets our message, but that’s not the point. The point is that we have a message that we have been assigned to deliver, we’ve been practicing faithfully for this last year, and we are going to chime out that message no matter what. It’s up to the Master Musician to do the rest. So, are we ready? It’s almost time.”
The bell choir stirred, positioning themselves, clappers at the ready, all eyes on Clang.
“Don’t forget, your part is critical. Sometimes people don’t hear the high notes, so you can’t hesitate or show weakness.”
“I won’t let you down, sir.”
Slowly the blackness outside the tower retreated before the insistence of the watery light of a winter sun. As it peeked above the horizon, Clang readied himself, gave the choir one last check, and nodded to Tinkle.
The high, light sound rang out loud and clear, followed by a rolling scale of melodious notes that reverberated across the awakening town.
Far below the tower, in the manse beside the church, a pastor looked up from his prayers. He had wrestled all night with his Christmas morning message. What could he say that would bring hope to a world where evil ruled men’s hearts, where even Christmas was banned with an “X”? How could he make sense of a world where, in the name of preserving peace, war was wrought?
He listened, remembered, and smiled. Hope was in God’s final note—which had yet to be played.
And in despair I bowed my head/There is no peace on earth I said/For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will toward men/
Then peeled the bells more loud and sweet/God is not dead nor doth he sleep/ The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/Of peace on earth, good will toward men./ (from: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day)
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