A Chime of Bells...
Chimes a ringing.
Down the lanes of memory.
Heard them calling,
Heard them singing.
In the days that used to be.
But the sweetest, purest,
Bringing Angel faces
Making life divinest,
Are the Old Church
Chimes to me.
Bells sending their sweet and vibrant sounds from a tower... what memories this calls forth! Bells the world over ring for all the changes that come to man from the cradle to the grave. For centuries bells have been the common messenger and reminder to men in all walks of life. Every age and every nation has had its bells.
Church bells was we know them today are the products of the Christian era. They date from the fourth century and it is believed that they were first used to summon worshippers to church. Bells come with Christianity to Great Britain in the seventh century and gifts of bells to churches were a common custom. During the century that followed a great many bells were made for churches in the European countries. The bells increased in size and were given special places in the worship and the life of Christians.
The making of a good bell, as well as the tuning of bells, is an art that is most efficiently pursued in the old world. A high degree of skill is in the tuning of bells is found in England "the land of bells." A peculiarity of bells is that they give off more than one sound when stuck and what we hear is really a combination of five tones. The most assertive of these is the strike note. Subordinate to this, but plainly audible, are the hum-note, an octave below, the nominal, an octave above. Then there is the minor third and the perfect fifth. These five tones at least must be present in a good bell, and must be in perfect accord. The metal used in the casting of bells is a mixture of the best copper and block tin in the proper proportion.
Immanuel ("Evangelical" Swede insert) Lutheran Church through the generosity of one of its members is the possessor of a chime of twelve bells which are mounted in the belfry in the stone House of Worship. The weight of the bells is 6,591 pounds. Together with the steel frame and equipment the combined weight of the chimes and mechanism is 12, 600 pounds.
Beginning with G below middle C on the keyboard the bells are tuned to the following keys: G, A, B, C, C#, D, E, F, F#, G, A, B.
Eleven bells are mounted in two tiers on a sturdy steel frame, the clappers being connected by cables to the keys on the hand clavier in the chimer's room directly beneath the belfry. The hand cleaver is a steel keyboard mounted on a frame. The bells are struck when the chimer manipulates the aluminum keys of the hand clavier. Playing the chimes by hand rather than mechanically opens the way for proper shading and timing as the mood fits the hymn to be played. The large bell weighing 1, 402 pounds is mounted on a separate frame for swinging and has two clappers, the one serving as the lower "G" of the chime, the other for striking the bell on both sides when swinging. These twelve bells give sufficient range for the playing of many hymns and melodies in a number of keys and for change ringing. The maker of these bells are Gillett and Johnson, Ltd. Who have been casting bells at Croydon, England since 1844 and their bells are found in many of the noteworthy towers of the world.
The chime of bells complete with all the mechanism was given to Immanuel (Evangelical) Lutheran Church, Wichita, Kansas, by Mrs A.C. Krietzer upon the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the congregation. The motive of the gift as well as the purpose which these bells are to serve is inscribed on the large bell: "To The Glory of God, October 8th, 1939"
The carillon is played each Sunday morning before and after the church service. At one time there was a tradition of tolling the large bell every Wednesday at 1800, then the carillon was played. It was reported that the neighbors would set their clocks by this event. One neighbor even wrote a poem about the bells, it's possible the poem on the cover of this brochure is the one, but this is speculation.
A new pulling rope with a red, white and blue pulling sally, an exact reproduction of the original, was purchased from Gillett & Johnston for 160.00 pounds in 1993.
The text and the graphics for this brochure are taken from one found at the church which may have been produced for the dedication of the bells in 1939. This brochure is being reproduced on the occasion of Immanuel Evangelical LCMS being one of the host churches involved with the May 21, 2000 annual American Guild of Organist "POPS" for Kids Family Organ Crawl.
It is again being reproduced on the occasion of the Historic South Wichita Christmas Tour, December 17th, 2005.
I share these with you, my friends. Enjoy! I wish you could hear them.