Bells: Ringing Out Times In Our Lives

Also see

What Bells Mean To Me

I have always loved bells. Whenever I hear them I want to stop and listen. They can be joyful, magical, enchanting, pleasant, or sad, serious, a warning, an end. Whatever the message they are sending it is always something I will remember… a day in spring, a wedding, a religious ceremony, a funeral…a sound in a different country or culture.

History Of Bells

Bells have been made for thousands of years.

‘In Ancient Egypt, bells were used in ceremonies while worshiping God Osiris. These bells were flat and were struck with a metal gong.

The practice of the use of metal bells for worship spread from China to many countries such as Japan, India, Thailand. The ringing of metal bells for worship became a practice in Hindu and Buddhist religions.

In Hindu temples, bells were placed above the entrance to temples or above the inner sanctum of worship. Small hand bells were also rung during times of worship and while offering fruits or food items to the Gods.

In Buddhism, bells were rung while offerings were made to Lord Buddha. The ringing of bells was also associated with wisdom, peace, patience, and the cure of confusion.

In Japan, Buddhist bells were huge, and sometimes many monks were needed to ring the bell. Japanese Shinto temples used animal-shaped small bells that were rung by visitors who came to the temple to offer prayers.

In Italy, under the leadership of Palanius, the Bishop of Nola, metal bells were made and were incorporated into ceremonies of worship and celebrations.

In the next few centuries, Christian Monks from Italy spread knowledge about metal bells across Europe.

In England, Saint Bede introduced the practice of ringing bells during funerals. During the Renaissance period, bells with enormous dimensions were cast, and the sound became much louder. During the Gothic architectural period, bells in churches became massive and were decorated with designs.’

Bells and Rhymes

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clements.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells at Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great
 bell at Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
  Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead.

Oranges and Lemons” is a traditional English nursery rhyme, folksong, and singing game that refers to the bells of several churches, all within or close to the City of London.

The song is used in a children’s singing game with the same name, in which the players file, in pairs, through an arch made by two of the players (made by having the players face each other, raise their arms over their head, and clasp their partners’ hands). The challenge comes during the final lines beginning “Here comes a chopper to chop off your head”; and on the final repetition of “chop” in the last line, the children forming the arch drop their arms to catch the pair of children currently passing through. These are then “out” and must form another arch next to the existing one. In this way, the series of arches become a steadily lengthening tunnel through which each set of two players has to run faster and faster to escape in time.

Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on bob tail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle Bells” is one of the best-known and commonly sung American songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title “The One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857… Although it has no original connection to Christmas, it became associated with Christmas music and the holiday season in the 1860s and 1870s.

4 thoughts on “Bells: Ringing Out Times In Our Lives”

  1. Your information on bells was interesting. We take listening to bells for granted and do not think of their history. The children’s game was an added touch. Thank you. Pat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.