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BELLS


420


BELLS


Danes and other marauders, were commonly called •doc teach. The bells occasionally stored there for the sake of safety seem to have been regarded as the most precious of their treasures and from this cir- cumstance the towers probably derived their name, though it is of course possible that they in some cases served as belfries in the more ordinary sense.

The great development in the use of bells may be identified with the eighth century. It was then, seemingly, that they began to be regarded as an essential part of the equipment of every church, and also that the practice of blessing them by a special form of consecration became generally prevalent. If we interpreted hterally a well-known passage in Bede (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxi) we should have to believe that already in the year 680, the bell [campana) that was rung at Whitby at the passing away of St. Hilda was heard at Hackness thirteen miles off. But the whole setting of the story implies that Bede regarded the occurrence as miraculous and that the distance might as well have been thirty miles as thirteen. On the other hand, it is clear that in the eighth century church towers began to be built for the express pur- pose of hanging bells in them, which implies that the bells must have been increasing in size. The case of St. Peter's at Rome has already been noticed. So in the annals of St. Vandrille (cap. x, p. 33) we read that in ihe time of Ermharius who died in 738, that abbot had a bell made, to be hung in the little tower (turricula) as is the custom of such churches"; while the ' ' Monachus Sangallensis " (De Carolo Magno, I, xxxi) tells the story of a monastic bell-founder who asked Charlemagne to give him a hundred pounds of silver with a proportionate amount of copper to provide materials for a single great bell. In any case it is certain from Charlemagne's "Capitularies", as well as from Alcuin, Amalarius, and other writers of the early ninth century, that by that time in the Prankish dominions every parish church was ex- pected to have at least one bell. In the next century Regino of Priim, providing a programme of questions to be asked at an episcopal visitation, puts in the very first place a question about the church bells. Seeing that the clearest evidence of the popularity of church bells in Carlovingian times is encountered in regions where the influence of Irish or English mis- sionaries had prevailed, it may perhaps be concluded that this development should be traced to Celtic influence. The missionary's hand-bell, with which he gathered his congregation together in the open air, would soon become sacred as a thing immediately as- sociated with him and his work. Moreover, the idea would grow up that no religious service could take place without some preliminary ringing of a bell. Although we have traces of the use of signa and campana: in monasteries before the Irish became missionaries, there is no evidence to show that these were bells rather than gongs. On the other hand, the aiffiavrpov, used to announce the beginning of serv- ice in Greek monasteries was a flat plate of metal and its name (from a-riiiahuv , "to make a signal") is ob- viously the counterpart of signum. Further we also find in an okl glossary of the tenth century that the Greek word TitiTravov (drum) is given as the equiva- lent of campanum (Corpus Glossariorum Latinorum, III, 24). At the same time we can trace in Ireland itself a gradual evolution of the shape of the bell, passing from the small cow-bell of rivetted iron to the cast bronze instrument of considerable size, nearly approximating the bell with which we are now t'amihar.

II. Benediction. — Since the beginning of the sixteenth century there has been much purposeless controversy over the question of the so-called "bap- tism" of bells. Protestant critics, following the lead of Luther himself, have professed to find in the rite not only superstition but a profanation of the sacra-


ment. But one might as well be scandalized at the ceremonial usually followed in the launching and christening of a ship. The phrase " baptism of bells" is merely popular and metaphorical. It has been tolerated, but has never been formally recognized by the Church (Benedict, XIV, Instit., 47, n. 33). Every Catholic child is aware that the essence of the Sacrament of Baptism consists in the form: "I baptize thee", etc., but no properly authorized ritual for the blessing of bells is known to have con- tained any phrase which can be regarded as an equivalent or parody of these words. Certain local "agenda" in which something of the sort is found, for example at Cologne (see Schonfelder, Liturgische Bibliothek, I, 99-100) appear never to have received any official recognition (cf. The Month, September, 1907). On the other hand, the ceremonial of the Church is often imitative. The rite for the blessing of palms closely follows the arrangement of the variable portions of the Mass. The order for the coronation of a king copies so nearly that for the consecration of a bishop that Anglican writers have recently contended that the king is a "spiritual person " invested with episcopal powers. Hence it would not be surprising that in the "Benedictio Signi vel Campanae" a certain resemblance should be traced to details in the ritual of baptism. Exorcisms are used, and water and salt and unctions with the holy oils; the bell receives a name, and formerly, at least, the name was suggested by a "godfather". But for all the controversy the resemblances are really very superficial. The following is a summary of the ceremony now in use from which the medieval pontificals differ but slightly. The bishop in white vestments first recites seven psalms with his attend- ant clergy to implore the Divine assistance. Then he mixes salt with water, reciting prayers of exorcism analogous to those always used in the preparation of holy water, but making special reference to the bell and to the evil influences of the air — the phan- toms, the storms, the lightning — which threaten the peace of devout Christians who come to the church to sing the praises of God. Then the bishop and his attendants "wash" {lavant) the bell inside and out with the water thus prepared and dry it with towels, the Psalm "Laudate Dominum de coelis" and five others of similar import being sung meanwhile. These are followed by various unctions, those on the outside of the bell being made with the oil of the sick in seven places, and those on the inside with chrism in four places. In the accompanj-ing prayers mention is made of the silver trumpets of the Old Law and of the fall of the walls of Jericho, while protection is asked once more against the powers of the air, and the faithful are encouraged to take refuge imder the sign of the Holy Cross. In this respect the prologue of Longfellow's "Golden Legend" leaves a generally correct impression, despite the inaccurate statement:

For these bells have been anointed And baptized with holy water- In making the imctions, and not, be it noticed, in washing the bell, a form is used introducing the patron saint: "May this bell be + hallowed, O Lord, and -t- consecrated in the name of the + Father, and of the + Son and of the ■+- Holy Ghost. In honour of St. N. Peace be to thee". Finally tiie thurible with incense {th;/miama) and myrrh are placed under the bell so that the smoke arising may fill its concavity. Then another prayer is said of similar purport to the last, and the ceremony ends with the reading of the passage in the Gospel con- cerning Martha and Mary.

In all essentials this ritual agrees with that in use in Carlovingian times, found in many manuscripts, and dating probably as far back as the pontificate of