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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/484

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BELLS


422


BELLS


tricts of t^e Highlands of Scotland. It is used at funerals, but is otherwise left unprotected, being re- garded with such deep veneration by all that no one dares to interfere with it (see Macdonald, Moidart, Oban, 1S89, 120). In many parts of France there were formerly confraternities of hand-bell-ringers who regularly attended funerals, walking at the head of the procession. They also paraded the streets at night and rang to remind people to pray for the holy souls. This happened especially on the eve of All Saints and on Christmas Kve (Morillot, Clochet- tes, 160 sqq.).

In Rome the "De Profundis" is rung every even- ing by the parish churches one hour after the Ave Maria. Clement XII in 1736 granted an indulgence for this practice and endeavoured to extend it. This custom is observed in many other places, particularly in North America.

The Curfew (ignitegium) , a warning to extinguish fires and lights, after which all respectable char- acters went home to bed, was possibly of eccle- siastical origin but seems to have been rung as a rule by the town bell (campana communiw. bancloche). Still in many cases one of the church bells was used for this and similar purposes. In England this was particularly frequent, and in many small towns and parislies the curfew is rung to this day at hours vary- ing from S p. II. to 10.

The Angelus or Ave Maria may or may not have developed out of the curfew. There seems good rea- son to believe that a special bell, often called the Gabriel bell, was devoted to this purpose. In the Middle .A.ges the Angelus seems commonly to have been rimg with three equal peals, and this arrange- ment still obtains in many places. In Rome, where tlie Ave Maria is sung half an hour after sunset this method obtains: three strokes and a pause, four strokes and a pause, five strokes and a pause, a final stroke.

From the introduction of the Elevation of the Host in the Mass at the beginning of the thirteenth century it seems to have been customary to ring one of the great bells of the church, at any rate during the principal Mass, at the moment when the Sacred Host was raised on higli. This was to give warning to the people at work in the fields in order that they might momentarily kneel down and make an act of adoration. It seems, however, not improbable that in England the big bell was not commonly rung but that a small hand-bell was used for the purpose. This was taken to a small window (low side window) ordinarily closed by a sliutter, thrust through the aperture and rung outside the church. Whether this was distinct from the little bell which the rubrics of the Mass now order to be rimg by the server is not quite clear. It may be noted here that in regard to this same tintinnnbulum usage varies very much in different coiuitries. In Belgium. France, and some other places, this little bell is rung also at the "little elevation" before the Pater Noster. In Rome it is never rung at the Domine non sum dignus and is not used at all at Masses said by the pope or by cardinals.

In the rite of the blessing of bells the verse is ap- plied to them rnx Domini in virtufe. vox Domini in magnificentiA (The voice of the Lord is in power; the voice of the Lord in magnificence. Ps.. xxviii, 4). It is no doubt in virtue of the solemnity which they lend to worshio that the "Ceremoniale Episeoporum" directs that they are to be rung in honour of the bisliop when he visits the parish. The same mark of respect is observed in the case of secular princes. while such occasions as processions of the Blessed Sacrament, solemn Te Deums. marriages, and days of national rejoicing are similarly distinguished. On the other hand, in token of mourning the bells are silent from the (iloria of the Mass on Maundy Thurs- day until the Gloria on Holy Saturday, this rule


goes back to the eighth century and Amalarius is authority for the statement that then as now a wooden rattle was used in their place. Again the idea of vox Domini in Virtute in remembrance of their special consecration lias led to the bells being rung at times of storm and apprehended danger. The inscription Salva Terra often found in the old bells of the South of France seems to bear special reference to this virtue of the bells as sacramentals. IV. Arcreology AJSiD Inscriptions. — Unques- tionably the oldest existing Christian bells are those of Irish, or at least Celtic, origin, of which, as already stated, a surprisingly large number are preserved. The earliest, made of iron plate, bent and rivetted, seem to have been dipped in melted bronze, a process which probably much improved their sonority. Somewhat later hand-bells began to be cast in bronze, and one such specimen (eight inches in diameter and nearly a foot high) can be dated by the aid of the inscription whicli it bears or .\r chi.;mascach Sic .\iLiLL.i [A prayer upon (i. e. for) Chumascach son of AilUl]. Now as Chumascach, steward of the Church of Armagh, died in 904. this bell probably belongs to the closing years of the ninth century. Another bell of early date, but of small size (five and one-half inches high and seven inches in diameter), is preserved in the Museum of Cordova. It bears the inscription: Offert hoc munus Sanson abbatis [sic] in domum sancti Sebastiani martyris Christi era DCCCCLXIII". This is the Spanish Era and corresponds with a. d. 925. Of church bells properly so called, the earliest existing specimens seem to belong to the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. They are for the most part of a sort of beehive, thimble or barrel shape, sometimes disproportionately broad, some- times narrower, while tlie sides are commonly straight or even in some few instances converge a little toward the bottom. They are also often per- forated with three or four small triangular apertures in the upper part of the bell. The inscriptions, when they occur, are engraved and not as a rule cast in relief. Most of them are very short, but this is

Crobably due to the accident that so very few early ells have survived, for we have record of much longer inscriptions engraved on bells as far back as the ninth century. Thus Folcuin who was Abbot of Lobbes from 965 to 990, tells us in his chronicle of one of his predecessors Harbert (835-864) who had a bell made with this inscription: —

Harbert i imperio componor ab arte Patemi Nee musis docta en cantus modulabor amoenos Nocte dieque vigil depromam carmina Christi. Folcuin himself set up bells which bore the words: " Jussu Fulcuini me condidit artificis manus Danielis, ad laudem triadis "; and " Fulcuinus Deo et patrono suo S. Ursmaro."

This last instance, perhaps the earliest example of a bell with a name, throws an interesting light on the origin of the practice of assigning bells to a particulr.r patron, .\gain we know that the Cistercians of Waverley about 1239 had a bell made with the legend: Dicor nomine quo tu Virgo domestica Christi Sum Domini praeco cuius tutela fuisti .A.nd an even longer inscription consisting of four hexameter lines was to be read upon the bell called Edmund at Burj'. which dated irora about 1105. The oldest church bell now in existence is probably that known as the LuUus bell at Hersfeld which may be- long to the middle of the eleventh century, but the oldest which bears a certain date (i. e. 1164) is said to be one at Iggensbach in Bavaria. It may be doubted, however, whether certain ancient Italian bells at Siena and elsewhere have yet been adequately studied (see Ellacombe, 405, 530). In England many medieval bells still survive, but no dated bell is older than that of Claughton in L.ancashire, 1296. As re- gards the lettering of the inscriptions, it suffices to say