On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, as Barack Obama takes the oath of office, bells will ring out all across the country in celebration and joy. One of the churches that will be ringing their bells is Trinity Church at the foot of Wall Street in New York. But they will be doing a bit more than just ringing their bells, they will be ringing a full change.
Change-ringing bells differ from most church bells in that they swing a full 360 degrees, instead of ringing back and forth, ringing only once per revolution. Trinity has the only set of twelve change-ringing bells in the United States, the gift of a British businessman.
Each of the twelve bells has its own ringer and it takes about three hours to ring the entire change. Twelve bells have a possible 479,001,600 permutations that can be rung, and all of it is governed by a mathematical algorithm. If you You Tube "ringing of the bells", you will see and hear some samples.My family got used to hearing the changes in the small Cotswold town of Tewkesbury, home of the incredible medieval Tewkesbury Abbey. They practiced on Thursday evenings and rang a three-hour change on Sundays.A lot of people think that ringing the changes is a cacophony of sound, but it's music to my ears.