- bells and bell-ringing
Bells hung high in the towers of churches are rung to announce church services. In Britain the sound of church bells from a belfry is associated with Sunday mornings and with weddings. Bells throughout the country may also be rung at times of national celebration. Before minor services or to announce a funeral (= a service for a dead person), a single bell is usually sounded repeatedly for five or ten minutes. The blessing of the bread and wine at a Communion service may also be indicated by the sounding of a bell.Churches usually have between 5 and 12 bells, which are rung by teams of bell-ringers. The ringers stand far below the bells and each pulls on a long rope attached to a bell in such a way that the bell swings over in a circle, causing the clapper inside the bell to strike the side. In a peal each of the bells is rung in turn, and the order in which they are rung changes according to a pattern. This is called change-ringing. Complicated tunes can be played and many changes have their own name, e.g. Grandsire Triples and Oxford Treble Bob.Other types of institution also use bells: Great Tom, the big bell at Christ Church College, Oxford, is rung 101 times each night, indicating the original number of scholars at the college. The most famous bell in Britain is Big Ben, the large bell in the clock tower next to the Houses of Parliament in London, which chimes the hours and which has traditionally been heard on radio and television.Bell-ringing used to be a popular hobby though it is now sometimes necessary to use a recording of bells before church services because of a shortage of bell-ringers. Some people complain about the noise of bells but most people like the sound.America’s experience with bells did not begin well, since the nation’s Liberty Bell cracked in 1752. Bells are heard in churches and at colleges and universities. Some communities, especially in New England, ring bells as a celebration. Bells are also used to announce the time, mostly using the eight notes of Big Ben.The US has no traditional bell-ringers as in Britain. Instead, many institutions have carillon bells, a group of up to 70 bells controlled from a keyboard like that of an organ. Carillon bells can play tunes and simple harmonies. The 50 bells of the Allen & Perkins Carillon at Duke University in North Carolina were first used to play songs in 1932. Other well-known carillons include the Sather Tower Carillon at the University of California at Berkeley. Few of the bells are made in the US and most are imported from Britain.
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