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Author Topic: What's the meaning of the church bells during liturgy of the Eucharist?  (Read 4595 times) Average Rating: 0
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StGeorge
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« on: October 21, 2005, 02:18:15 PM »

I have been attending a Ruthenian Catholic church, and I notice that after the priest says something akin to "Take, Eat...This is my...Body/Body" the large church bell on top of the church is rung.ÂÂ  In the Latin Rite, it is traditional to ring small bells at relatively the same time.ÂÂ  What is the purpose of ringing the bells?ÂÂ  Is it simply to get everyone's attention, or is there some deeper meaning?ÂÂ  

I thought that perhaps, since the service is itself the Sacrafice of Christ that the bells might have something to do with that.ÂÂ  The fact that the bell is heard across the land indicates how Christ's Sacrafice is for the entire world, whereas the spaced pangs of the bell imply that Christ's Sacrafice is for all time.ÂÂ  That's how I see it at least.

Do the Orthodox do what the Ruthenian Catholics do?ÂÂ  If so, what is the reason for doing so?ÂÂ  Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2005, 02:41:37 PM »

I have been attending a Ruthenian Catholic church, and I notice that after the priest says something akin to "Take, Eat...This is my...Body/Body" the large church bell on top of the church is rung.ÂÂ  In the Latin Rite, it is traditional to ring small bells at relatively the same time.ÂÂ  What is the purpose of ringing the bells?ÂÂ  Is it simply to get everyone's attention, or is there some deeper meaning?ÂÂ  

I thought that perhaps, since the service is itself the Sacrafice of Christ that the bells might have something to do with that.ÂÂ  The fact that the bell is heard across the land indicates how Christ's Sacrafice is for the entire world, whereas the spaced pangs of the bell imply that Christ's Sacrafice is for all time.ÂÂ  That's how I see it at least.

Do the Orthodox do what the Ruthenian Catholics do?ÂÂ  If so, what is the reason for doing so?ÂÂ  Thanks!

Its a latinization of the Russian Catholic Liturgy because the samething happens in a Roman Catholic Mass at the consecration.   We have bells but they are rung 12 times during the chanting of the Creed.

JoeS

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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2005, 02:52:13 PM »

Its a latinization of the Russian Catholic Liturgy because the samething happens in a Roman Catholic Mass at the consecration.  ÃƒÆ’‚ We have bells but they are rung 12 times during the chanting of the Creed.

JoeS



Bells in the Orthodox church when rung is another form of prayer.  Bells are "baptized" and given names as well.

JoeS
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2005, 02:55:05 PM »

Bells are also rung to let people, who can't be in church, to know what is occuring at that moment in the church.
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2005, 05:31:28 PM »

I did not come out of the RCC, but I've been told that the use of bells dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Latin Mass was no longer understood by most people.  The idea, as it was explained to me, was that the faithful would be saying their own private prayers during Mass, and the bells were used to alert them to the fact that the Sacred Moment had arrived.

I would be very interested to know if this is true, or just a Religious Urban Legend.
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2005, 06:39:29 PM »

I'm not sure; but I've encountered the mid-service bells in different ways in different churches...

I've only heard the "small" bells near the words of institution at Latin Churches or ones that have heavy Latin influence (the CRC, for example).  I've heard the bells rung after the consecration prayers in Greek Churches, and at varrying points (at transitions from one service to another, for example, when you go from Orthros to Liturgy).
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2005, 07:06:29 PM »

Quote
Religious Urban Legend.

Latin is hardly incomprehensible to the Italian or Spanish speaker.  The native English speaker of course won't understand much - but throughout the middle ages the RCC's base was countries that speak a romance language. ÂÂ

Bells are a natural way of marking the high points of a church service.  Bells are festive and were used to greet any important event in the old world (someone dies - ring the bells - someone important arrives - ring the bells). ÂÂ

Also as was pointed out before they mark the Church services for those not able to attend.  So when I was at the monastery I would know depending on which bells were rung if I should leave my work and go to church or stay at my work. ÂÂ
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2005, 07:12:50 PM »

Interesting.  Thanks.
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2005, 07:12:45 PM »

Bells in the Orthodox church when rung is another form of prayer.ÂÂ  Bells are "baptized" and given names as well.

JoeS

This is not just EO.  Bells in England were/are also named and "baptized".  I shall refrain from getting into English Change Ringing, lest people's eyes start to glaze over.

 Grin

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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2005, 10:08:10 PM »

I did not come out of the RCC, but I've been told that the use of bells dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Latin Mass was no longer understood by most people. The idea, as it was explained to me, was that the faithful would be saying their own private prayers during Mass, and the bells were used to alert them to the fact that the Sacred Moment had arrived.

I would be very interested to know if this is true, or just a Religious Urban Legend.

Actually, I was told this as well.  That was in the Episcopal church.  BJohnD, what church told you that, just out of curiosity? 
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2005, 10:18:31 PM »

Quote
Actually, I was told this as well.  That was in the Episcopal church.  BJohnD, what church told you that, just out of curiosity?

I have heard this also. When I was a member of the Charismatic Episcopal Church my priest was discussing this one time and he basically said the same thing that it was from the middle ages when they had huge cathedrals.
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2005, 12:16:19 AM »

I have been attending a Ruthenian Catholic church, and I notice that after the priest says something akin to "Take, Eat...This is my...Body/Body" the large church bell on top of the church is rung.  In the Latin Rite, it is traditional to ring small bells at relatively the same time.  What is the purpose of ringing the bells?  Is it simply to get everyone's attention, or is there some deeper meaning? 

I thought that perhaps, since the service is itself the Sacrafice of Christ that the bells might have something to do with that.  The fact that the bell is heard across the land indicates how Christ's Sacrafice is for the entire world, whereas the spaced pangs of the bell imply that Christ's Sacrafice is for all time.  That's how I see it at least.

Do the Orthodox do what the Ruthenian Catholics do?  If so, what is the reason for doing so?  Thanks!
Before they had microphones for the priests, bells would be rung so that the congregation would be aware that the Consecration was taking place. Also, this began when the priests faced the altar and had their back to the people.
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2005, 12:41:02 AM »

Quote
I did not come out of the RCC, but I've been told that the use of bells dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Latin Mass was no longer understood by most people.  The idea, as it was explained to me, was that the faithful would be saying their own private prayers during Mass, and the bells were used to alert them to the fact that the Sacred Moment had arrived.

I would be very interested to know if this is true, or just a Religious Urban Legend.
It is probably not true that the bells were rung because the faithful couldn't understand Latin.  At this point in history the entire Canon (anaphora) was said silently by the Priest (even in Solemn Mass), even if it was in vernacular the faithful could not hear the prayer anyway.  This is unlike Eastern and "High Church" Protestant liturgies, where it is said aloud.

I suspect this has Protestant origins.  I always hear it from Protestants and liberal Catholics as a way of demeaning the traditional Latin Mass.
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2005, 06:40:07 AM »

Newsflash: in a traditional Orthodox Liturgy, the Anaphora is prayer quietly by the priest in a very low voice. You can't hear it. The only thing that is said aloud is the "Take! Eat! This is my body ...." part.
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2005, 10:13:24 AM »

Oddly enough, all of the (Western) explanations have some grain of truth in them.

Bells have been used for a very long time to summon people church and to mark the liturgical hours. How many of you are familiar with the Millet painting The Angelus? Here the two farm workers have heard the angelus bell (rung in the late afternoon) and are reciting the Ave Maria (possibly with verses added) three times. Similarly, bells were rung during the consecration prayer, both as an expression of solemnity/joy and as a signal to those who couldn't be at church that this solemnity had been reached in the service.

As time passed and as personal devotions tended to overtake attention to the service, the use of smaller, indoor bells did tend to develop the "purpose" of drawing attention to the elevations-- the focal point of late medieval piety. (I believe they were also used to some extent to synchronize the multiple masses that were typically going on a in late medieval church-- I'd have to find Eamon Duffy to be very confident in saying that, though.) They were finally rubricated at Trent, though curiously the manner of ringing them was never fixed. This pamphlet has nice illustrations of all manner of arrangements.

Given the dates I've seen for intrudction of practices, I have to suspect that Eastern and Western use evolved almost entirely separately; but the possible uses obviously would tend to promote the similarity we see today.
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2005, 12:35:28 PM »

At a greek church downtown (Panagia's), the bells are rung @ the begining of liturgy to let ppl know "evlogimeni"-Blessed is the Kingodm..." is starting, then at the Great Entrance/Cherubic Hymn (We Who Mystically/Ita Herouvim), then @ the time when the ppl are kneeling and the chaters are chanting "Se imnoumen...We praise you.." And then again at the singing of the "Axion Estin os Alithos- Truly You Are Worthy".

Its interesting to note as someone did earlier that at the greek churches its usually right during the consecration when everyone kneels rather than right when the priest says "Take eat/drink..."
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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2005, 12:51:43 PM »

Interesting.ÂÂ  Thanks.

AND Ive been told that those who were working in the fields and didnt make it to Mass would hear the bells and stop working to say some special prayers?Huh

JoeS
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« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2005, 08:27:18 PM »

I did not come out of the RCC, but I've been told that the use of bells dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Latin Mass was no longer understood by most people.ÂÂ  The idea, as it was explained to me, was that the faithful would be saying their own private prayers during Mass, and the bells were used to alert them to the fact that the Sacred Moment had arrived.

I would be very interested to know if this is true, or just a Religious Urban Legend.

As an RCC it is done right at the moment of concecration...right when the bread turns into the flesh...and again the bells are rung right at the time when the wine is turned into the blood....however some churches dont have this... Angry  like the church I go to...but alot of times I will go down town to the one that does....it is so the people who can not attend will know exact what is going on...and there is also a service downtown at noon...another set of bells are rung and we do this one prayer (oh gosh...for some reason I cant remember the name)...
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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2005, 10:32:37 AM »

I agree with Silouan that the bells are for important events. A good example is when there is a Pan-Orthodox Service (in Chicago it happens 2X a year). As the Hierarchs are proceeding towards the door of the church, the bells are rung continuously to welcome them to the church. Bells are also a sign of rejoicing and happiness. Sunday traditionally represents a commemoration of the Resurrection. We ring bells to rejoice in Commemorating the Feast of Feasts every Sunday. Especially during the Matins service in the ACROD church I go to. After the procession, we have a good 5 minutes of bell ringing while Christ is Risen is being sung for the first time.
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2005, 03:42:37 PM »

I agree with Silouan that the bells are for important events. A good example is when there is a Pan-Orthodox Service (in Chicago it happens 2X a year). As the Hierarchs are proceeding towards the door of the church, the bells are rung continuously to welcome them to the church. Bells are also a sign of rejoicing and happiness. Sunday traditionally represents a commemoration of the Resurrection. We ring bells to rejoice in Commemorating the Feast of Feasts every Sunday. Especially during the Matins service in the ACROD church I go to. After the procession, we have a good 5 minutes of bell ringing while Christ is Risen is being sung for the first time.

Incidentally Nick, do you know anyone who's driving out to the pan-Orthodox vespers in Niles tonight and could give me a ride from the North Side?
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« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2005, 07:36:23 PM »

I'm not aware of anyone driving from the North Side... I would help, but I'm singing in the Pan Orthodox Choir tonight and I am actually on my way out the door since we have to be there at 6.... hmmm.... Maybe if you called the Church they might know some people, the church is large and their members are scattered around Chicago. Sorry about the short notice on the post, I actually didn't think about posting it here till this morning. Hope you find a way to make it there and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2011, 04:12:29 PM »

Yes, there are bells rung during the Eucharistic canon. There are usually 12 bells, but in Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral (LA), where I was trained, we rang them every 30 seconds from "Let us give thanks unto  the Lord", until "Especially...". This may be merely local tradition.
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« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2011, 01:19:09 AM »

I and a few others ring the bells at our temple.  Our typicon is not wide as full Russian usage (you can read the Russian typicon for bells at Blagovest.com so far as it has been translated).  We do bells to start and end the service, for the Creed, The Consecration, Pascha, for weddings, funerals, and to greet visiting bishops.  I think in some church who have trained zvonars and a full bell set there are other occasions for the bells.

With respect to the consecration we ring the blagovest…our biggest bell, 9 times. This number is for the 9 choirs of angels.  Basically it the signal for all creatures in heaven and earth to prostrate themselves in worship before the Lord.

In the Russia tradition bells are regarded as singing icons. They are prayer and and acclamation. The peals are composed like hymns (even when improvised), even the simple ones, and are generally tripartite, though not always.

Here is a link to a zvon (peal) for the blessing of the waters: The big bell you hear is the "Sisoy", 36 tons, takes 2 people to ring it and it can be heard for miles. To be allowed to ring the Sisoy is a great honor for bell ringers.  Be patient with the zvon…they tend to start simple then bloom: http://www.russianbells.com/zvons/zvons/rostov-vodosvat.mp3

A peal to announce the beginning of liturgy (traditionally started and repeated about 5 to 15 min prior…time for church): http://www.russianbells.com/zvons/zvons/rostov-maly.mp3

another complex zvon: http://www.russianbells.com/zvons/zvons/rostov-krasny.mp3

Russian Flat bells (bilo): used in a celebratory manner during festal seasons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IK3ZVA32QU&feature=related

A Russian Zvonar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUQcByFS_s0 (Note that Orthodox bells are not swung, but rather, their tongues/clappers instead)

In addition bells, Orthodox Churches also use a simple sounding board (semandrone, Talinton, Toacca). These are most often found in monasteries or used in Muslim lands where church bells have been forbidden:

A masterfully "rung" toaca: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD6WGJAsrpQ

You can listen to good bells for hours


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« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2011, 06:43:48 PM »

I did not come out of the RCC, but I've been told that the use of bells dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Latin Mass was no longer understood by most people.  The idea, as it was explained to me, was that the faithful would be saying their own private prayers during Mass, and the bells were used to alert them to the fact that the Sacred Moment had arrived.

I would be very interested to know if this is true, or just a Religious Urban Legend.

No, this is still quite true.  We traditional Catholics still use the bells at all (Tridentine) Masses.  Altar bells are still necessary -- they're not just decoration.  This is especially true at Low Mass.  There would be no way for anyone to know when the Consecration takes place without a ring at the beginning of the hanc igitur prayer of the Canon.  The bells are also run three times at the Sanctus, three times at each consecration, and once when the priest consumes the Host (this also serves as the communicants' cue to move towards the altar rail.)

Altar bell use is optional in the Novus Ordo, but 'high church' places still tend to use them in the Tridentine manner.   

My super-trad church "back home" still rings the exterior church bells at the Consecration, but this practice is now rare even among traditional Catholic parishes.
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« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2011, 02:49:35 AM »

The part of the liturgy you are speaking of is the prayers involved in the Holy Spirit making the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

Words of Institution/Concecration:
(at this point, everyone, especially those in the sanctuary bow their heads and keep silent in reverence, save for the responses)
Priest: Take, eat: this is My Body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins.
Everyone: Amen (bell rung)
Priest: Drink of it, all of you: this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins.
Everyone: Amen (bell rung)

Holy Oblation:
Priest: Remembering, therefore, this command of the Savior, and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the second, glorious coming, We offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts in all and for all. (bell rung)

The Epiclesis:
Priest: Again we offer unto Thee this reasonable and bloodless worship, and we ask Thee, and pray Thee, and supplicate Thee: Send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here offered.
Priest: and make this bread the Precious Body of Thy Christ,
Everyone: Amen (bell rung)
Priest: And that which is in this Cup, the Precious Blood of Thy Christ,
Everyone: Amen (bell rung)
Priest: Changing them by Thy Holy Spirit.
Everyone: Amen, Amen, Amen (bell rung 3 times; prostration made if not a Sunday)
(after this point, everyone raises their heads from being bowed)
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Epiclesis

Also, the bell is rung 12 times during the Nicene Creed at each "clause" (if that is the right word) and a few others at specific parts.
It is also rung during the Great Doxology just before the beginning of the Liturgy. (as well as during the Magnificat during Matins, and during "It is Truly Meet" after the Anaphora.)
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« Reply #25 on: March 25, 2011, 06:22:40 AM »

As a Altar boy in the serbian Church i rang the Hand bells, or the main bell ,or just hand bells  and my brother would  ring the main one.....No one ever mentioned that they had to be rung a certain number of times at certain times  ,so i and he just kept ringing and ringing till the Father said enough all ready..... Huh
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« Reply #26 on: March 25, 2011, 01:32:44 PM »

As a Altar boy in the serbian Church i rang the Hand bells, or the main bell ,or just hand bells  and my brother would  ring the main one.....No one ever mentioned that they had to be rung a certain number of times at certain times  ,so i and he just kept ringing and ringing till the Father said enough all ready..... Huh

Wow, the same in my experience. Especially the 'enough all ready' part!
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