How Do You Peal a Bell, and What Does That Have to do with Christmas, Anyway

Back Bay Ringers - Courtesy image
Back Bay Ringers – Courtesy image

Submitted by Gene Kalb for the Music Committee at First Parish on the Common

A little Background:

“In medieval times Christians traveled throughout Europe ringing bells while spreading the news of the risen Christ, and summoning people to congregate. Eventually, large bronze bells were cast and towers were constructed to house them. At first these towers were built apart from the church; then belfries were added above the church structures.  When several bells are hung in a belfry, they can be rung together, or one after another. This group of bells is known as a peal and consists of up to twelve bells tuned to different notes of the scale. By the 1700s tower bell ringing had become a very popular pastime throughout the British Isles.  

Okay, and you’re telling us this… why?

In order to practice bell ringing away from the exposed bell tower, hand-held bells were made. In 1660 William and Robert Cor of Wiltshire cast the first set of tuned bronze hand bells.These handbells were used to practice the musical changes for the tower bells, but ringers soon became interested in using the bells to ring melodies. Simple arrangements of hymns and folk songs began to appear, written for newly formed bell choirs. By the end of the eighteenth century, nearly every village in England had its own handbell choir.

Which brings us to the whole point of this post.  This Saturday the 14th you will have an opportunity to hear one of the best Handbell Choirs around, The Back Bay Ringers.

The Back Bay Ringers will be performing a special Holiday Concert at First Parish at 2:00.  (I know, I know, what about the Bedford Historical Society Party?)  Well, the good news is the Bell ringers concert is only about 90 minutes.  So you can do both!  How much revelry can you stand?

More Info:

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