Do you know why most homes have a doorbell? Hundreds of years ago, folks believed that evil spirits liked to hang around the doors of homes seeking to get in and cause havoc. But they also believed that the sound of a bell chased them away. And thus, folks would ring a bell before entering a home to deter evil from coming with them.
At First Presbyterian, the bells that our bell choir rings on many Sunday mornings may not be chasing away evil spirits, but we understand why people thought they did. When you hear bells ringing together to create beautiful harmonies and melodies, it can be a deeply moving experience.
From pretty much the beginning of human history, back to 3000 years before Christ, we have evidence of bells. And in Christian communities, bells began to take on a big role in the middle ages, as a way to share the joy of God’s love that could be heard over long distances. As these bell towers began to add bells, folks in England actually created ways to ring them so as to create melodies together, what became known as change ringing.
And these change ringers then created smaller bells to practice their craft at home, and so as the story goes, began the idea of hand bells. Groups of hand bell ringers began to perform in England soon after and in the 1840s, the circus impresario, P.T. Barnum, brought such a group to America to tour. Now almost two hundred years later, thousands of churches, schools and community groups around the world have developed hand bell choirs.
At First Presbyterian, we feel grateful to be part of that movement to bring the wonder of music through bells to our community. And here, you can not only enjoy hearing them on a Sunday, but you can learn how to ring them yourself. You don’t even really need much musical training to learn. Just come out one Thursday at 6:30 PM (when our hand bell choir practices) and try them out for yourself. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where the bell ringers meet, and how you can be involved.