Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ding-Dong (05/16/13)
TITLE: Mary's Bells
By lynn gipson
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They didn't ring again until the year 2011, when the parishioners raised the money to have the framework repaired and the bells restored, and the sweet melodies of St. Mary's bells began to sing out once more across Great Shefford.
St Mary's of Great Shefford is just one of several old churches to have their belfries restored for original use in recent years. Fund raising events and donations have allowed them the money to have these historic bells tolling once more.
In doing research for this article, I came across some facts I have never taken the time to learn. I'd never thought about all it takes to make those beautiful, harmonious peals, and I am fascinated by my discoveries of St. Mary's bells.
There are six tuned bells, each of a different note, which are operated by human bell ringers. A bell ringer is a person who tolls a bell by tugging on a large rope with great skill and timing to produce the appropriate ring.
These must be talented and brave people in my estimation. In the middle ages it was widely believed that the sounds of a these bells could disperse thunder, as many bell ringers were struck by lightning and killed during a time before the invention of lightning rods.
At St. Mary's of Great Shefford, there is a different series of bells rung for every occasion. A funeral, for instance, requires the single bell tone of a death toll. A bell ringer has pull the rope and hold it in a certain position in order to make that particular sound. This was the origination of the phrase, “For whom the bell tolls.”
Another series of tones are pealed out by the bell ringers to announce Church is in session on Sundays, and yet another signifies a wedding. These bells inform the community of whatever event is taking place at the church at any given time.
I am thrilled to hear about the restoration of these old church bells. Progress has given way to recordings of the sounds of ringing bells, but the authenticity of an actual church bell ringing cannot be duplicated.
Church bells sound like a spiritual message to me, as if God is speaking. When I hear them, I feel a sense of being in His presence. I pause and breathe slowly when each tone reverberates through my soul, and I am filled with peace.
In my lifetime, I have only had the privilege of hearing local Memphis church bells ring. One day, God willing, I am going to England to hear St. Mary's.
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