Sunday, October 02, 2011


When I was a kid, there was always the sound of church bells in the air.  I could hear the bells -- or, more accurately, the carillon -- from my parish church, St. Catherine of Siena in Reseda, California, all the way from home.  There were the Westminster chimes that ushered in every hour; there were the Angelus bells three times a day; there was the single tolling bell for Mass; and then there were the special chimes at noon, followed by bell renditions of hymns.  I don't know whether they got the bells up and running again after the Northridge earthquake, but I hope they did.

Now I seldom hear church bells.  I cannot hear any from my home, although there is a Catholic church nearby that has a carillon.  The bell is rung a few minutes before Mass at my cathedral parish, and sometimes when I go downtown for Mass on Sundays I can hear a bell or two from the Protestant churches.  But these days, the world is full of sourpusses who complain to the sourpusses on city councils about church bells exceeding decibel levels.  The liberal First-Amendment rampart watchers are nowhere to be found when local governments and courts silence church bells; the overall effect has been to substitute them with less edifying ambient sounds.

And so we turn to, of all places, YouTube for edification.  Today I felt like listening to church bells.  Here is an interesting video on the bells of Cologne Cathedral in Germany, where you can hear each of its individual bells -- some of which go all the way back to the Middle Ages -- and then all of them together (plenum):

And here is one where you can just listen to all of them for a while:


  1. I love bells. We are an inner city parish so our three bells don't bother anybody. They peal at the five minute warning before each Mass and ring the Angelus.

  2. One of the earliest memories I have as a kid is hearing the church bells ringing from across the ravine at St. Jude. Sadly, that is all gone in the area where I presently live.

    Even a ringing church bell was a sign to the community that Catholicism was "alive", so to speak. That it is no more, and replaced by all manner of noise, is rather symbolic - in a bad way.

  3. I guess I could have also made the point that (Catholic) church bells are sacramentals. Blessed are they who hear church bells. And since nature abhors a vacuum, when the bells are gone, other things rush in to take their place.