Bells are frequently incorporated into our Christmas decorating.
During the Christmas season we hear the high jangle of the Salvation Army ringers, carols about bells (click on the link to hear a jazzy Carol of the Bells), and musical arrangements that use bells. Some churches include hand bells during services.
Our bells are more symbolic than essential. In Europe bells marked time, called people to hear news, bear arms, or come to worship.
The few opportunities I've had to hear huge bronze bells have been thrilling.
One hot summer day I climbed the steps of a large German church. I climbed out of the tower door onto the roof just as the bells rang out the hour (motorized, no ringers necessary). The force of the sound was palpable. I clapped cupped hands over my ears to muffle it and staggered in its path. The sound waves pulsed right through my body.
|Denver Catholic Register photo by R. Linn|
In 1993 the Pope visited Denver for a World Youth Day rally. Blackhawk helicopters had been flying overhead for the week ferrying His Holiness from our local high school lawn to his appearances. I was lucky enough to be in my backyard when he performed the mass at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, about a mile away. The bells had been repaired for the occasion and pealed for over a minute. I only heard their magnificent call that once.
What a thrill it would be to hear some like them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sometime I hope to make a trip to one of the several churches with bells in the southeast US (two in NC), or during visit to Denver.
I can't imagine another instrument with such a grand sound, worthy of announcing Emmanuel's birth.