Faith at Work XXIV

July 2006

Iím curious now.My grandfatherís name is inscribed on a bell in the tower at All Saints Church, Barry in Glamorgan.It was put there in recognition of his services as churchwarden but I donít suppose many people have seen it and wondered who he was.Itís not exactly out in the open for everyone to see, is it?

Iím curious because one of the highlights of the recent exchange between the Twinning Association of Codsall and Bilbrook and their friends in St.Pryvť St.Mesmin near Orlťans was a tour round a bell foundry, that of the Bollťe family who have been making bells for customers around the world since the end of the 18th century.We were treated to an extremely detailed and interesting account of the whole process including how letters and patterns are created in the sand mould for the bell.What we saw and heard about could easily have been describing an operation established at the beginning of the industrial revolution.After our tour of the museum we went next door to the place where it was all still going on.It seemed as if we had been transported back several hundred years.We also learnt that the bells that they make had an equally long life, maybe 300 years or more, so my grandfatherís name is likely to be in service for a long time yet.

That reminds me of the Angelus (words from the angels) bell that summons people to evening worship at Koinambe in the Jimi Valley, Papua New Guinea.It hadnít been ordered from a foundry, it hadnít even been shipped there for that purpose.It was a used gas cylinder that rang sweetly and could be heard from far enough away to encourage people to worship; that one is probably still going strong too.

So, what do you feel or think when you hear the church bells ringing?Somehow it seems that they help to bring heaven on earth.Peals are still used to summon people to worship; they are used at joyous times such as weddings, at national celebrations or at the beginning of a New Year.The tolling of a single bell, sometimes half or fully muffled, may be heard at a funeral in memory of the departed.Each time we hear the bells, some thoughts will be triggered and often they will be thoughts that bring us closer to the divine Ė the Angelus bell is used in a monastic setting to remind the monks to pray as they carry out their daily tasks.So may we respond, as they do, or as Mary did when the angel came to her:

Here I am, the servant of the Lord
Let it be with me according to your word.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2006-06-16

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