January 19, 2009

Ringing in the Changes

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.


  1. I never knew this - again, I learn at your feet!

    this reminds me of a train horn. we live by some tracks and at night it is so romantic. except of course, the railway serial murder from a few years ago. one of his victims lived at the end of my street!!!! The city of West U outlawed the train horn though. it disturbed too many people - isn't that ridiculous.

  2. I think I would love it too. You have lived some amazing moments Meg!

  3. I love church bells and always think it a real treat to hear them.

    Joni, I know which house you're talking about. That was awful.

  4. With every post, you do "ring my bell!" So glad I visited here today, always learning something new
    and exciting.

  5. I'm not sure if I can follow this explanation, but I adore the symbolism . . . and I wish that I could hear those bells, too.

  6. Wow, fascinating. I must read more. I never knew this, nor did I know the phrase "ringing the changes."

    How appropriate!!

  7. I love church bells. Marquette U. had a struggling 48 bell carillon while I was a student there that was only played on special occassions. I was cruising the alumni website the other day and they've done a restoration which I can't wait to hear on my next visit back.


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