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Bell Tower Rings Out With Song This Weekend at St. James

The Bell Ringers, photo courtesy of St. James

By Dasha Morgan- St. James Episcopal Church on Main Street in Hendersonville will once again celebrate their musical bell tower this weekend.

Forty years ago on September 10th the church’s bell tower was dedicated. Ringers from all over North America are coming once again to participate, possibly with a total of 50 ringers present.

All are welcome to come out to hear the talents of these bell-ringers. The ringing will take place on Friday and Saturday from approximately 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM and on Sunday between services and in the afternoon— September 28th, 29th, and 30th.

The sound should be carried for some distance. Each bell represents a note in the octave, and thus melodic sound patterns will ring out. Bob Aldinger, parishioner, mentioned that there are about 15 active ringers in the area.

Others are coming from across the United States and Canada, and will participate in a guild meeting. He said there is a certain amount of skill and practice involved to control the sound of these bells.

Looking down onto bells, they are pointed up ready to ring

The 8 bells range in weight from 300 pounds to over 1,000 pounds with a rope that hangs into the ringing room adjacent to the church.

Tower bells are hung and ring in different manners. The St. James’ bells are hung for change ringing which involves ringing patterns on the eight bells.

This type of ringing goes back to the early 1600s in England where there are well over 5,000 towers. In North America there are about 50 similar towers including one at Christ Church in Raleigh.

Other familiar towers that ring in different manners include St. Marks Cathedral in Venice and the bell tower of Notre Dame in Paris. Here in North Carolina the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower on the campus of the University of North Carolina is familiar.

That belfry is equipped with 14 mechanized bells and rings every 15 minutes, chiming on the hour in addition to chiming other songs or the alma mater as part of University celebrations or holidays.

So be sure to stop by this weekend in Hendersonville to enjoy and hear the talents of the bell ringers at St. James Episcopal Church.

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