The ringing of bells in remembrance of someone’s life and their passing has a long history steeped in traditions from the past. Church bells were rung slowly (tolled) to announce someone’s death or at their funeral service.
The “passing bell” is the herald of death, but the custom of ringing it has largely been abandoned in this country. Its object was to call attention to the fact that a soul was “passing” into the next world, and asked your prayers. More than this, it was believed that the ringing of the bell frightened the ever-present evil spirits, who would be making a special effort at the moment of death to obtain possession of the soul.
A special bell was reserved for this purpose, known in Scotland as a “mort-bell,” and another called the “soul-bell” tolled after death had taken place. It was possible to tell by the sound of the “soul-bell” if it was rung for an adult, or for a child, for in the former case the tenor was sounded and in the latter, the treble. It was, moreover, customary to distinguish the sex, by tolling three times for a man and twice for a woman, followed, after a pause, by a stroke for each year corresponding to the age of the deceased. Nowadays a bell is sometimes tolled twenty-four hours after a death, but is seldom heard till the procession is in sight of the church, when its solemn note at minute intervals denotes the arrival of the body for burial.
Belle Musique values customs and traditions of the past that turn our thoughts toward the fond and warm remembrance of loved ones. We believe the ringing of bells is a warm reminder of life and we celebrate in community with those who come to honor and pay due respect.
The history of wedding bells is steeped in tradition spanning throughout the centuries. Hundreds of years ago the church was the heart and center of every township and community. Any bit of news was delivered and sent out via the countryside church. Whether it was announcing a service, funeral, wedding or a birth, church bells would ring from the belfries. A specific ringtone or pattern of notes was sounded to spread the news of each event. Change ringers would swing wildly up and down from ropes connected to large bells hanging from the tops of the cathedral towers. Harsh weather conditions sometimes prevented the ringers from being able to practice their bell peals and/or to sound the message of the special event. Smaller handheld replicas were consequently made enabling the ringers to move their practice inside- and the precursor to the modern handbell was born.
Bells were used in the wedding service as the couple walked down the aisle or as the ceremony ended and the couple came out of the church. Some superstitions emerged about the significance of bells being rung at the wedding. They were thought to scare off evil spirits intent on ruining the new couple’s happiness and therefore, bring fortune and good luck to the newlyweds. Although the superstition has faded, the ringing of wedding bells is still seen today as a symbolic way to celebrate the couple’s new life together.
The sound of bells is unique and familiar, yet rarely seen and heard today. They are a handcrafted instrument made of bronze. Each casting is hand-lathed and tuned to precision. They are beautiful to behold as they lay polished and shining on a table, ready to be played. People sit in awe and wonder as they listen to the bright and cheerful tones the bells produce. Happiness, joy, hope, and peace are often the emotions that these glorious instruments evoke. Excitement and anticipation also accompany the wedding celebration as the handbells play.
Along with their history and tradition, wedding bells tell the story of new beginnings and hope for the future. We here at Belle Musique wish to bring to our clients the most uplifting and joyous sounds to make their perfect day complete!
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