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690
BELL

“ringing”), in which case the impact of the clapper is much heavier, and the sound produced is consequently louder and more far-reaching. Mechanical ringing is more common on the continent of Europe, especially in Belgium and Flanders; ringing by hand is more common in England, where the development of change-ringing (see below) has brought it into prominence.

(1) Mechanical ringing is effected by a system of wires connected with small hammers striking the bells, usually on their outside, and worked either by connexion with the machinery of a clock, so as to play tunes or artificially arranged chimes at definite intervals; or with a key-board resembling that of an organ. The first of these methods is familiar in the chimes (Cambridge, Westminster, &c.) heard from many towers at the striking of the hours and quarters; or in hymn tunes played at intervals (e.g. of three hours) upon the church bells. The second method is peculiar to the “carillon” (q.v.), as found everywhere in Belgium, where with a set of from 20 or 30 to 60 or 70 bells a much wider scope for tunes and harmonies is provided than in English belfries, few of which have more than one octave of bells in one key only and none more than 12 bells. The carillons at Louvain and Bruges contain 40 bells, and that of Mechlin 44, while in the tower of Antwerp cathedral there are upwards of 90 bells, for the largest of which, cast in 1507, Charles V. stood sponsor at its consecration.

(2) Ringing by Hand.—Church bells may be “chimed” or “rung” (see above). One man can, as a rule, chime three bells, with a rope in each hand and one foot in the loop of another; but by the use of an “Ellacombe” or other chiming apparatus one man can work six, eight or ten bells. Some prefer the quieter sound of chiming as an introduction to divine service, but where a band of ringers is available and change-ringing is practised the bells as a rule are rung. The practice of “clocking” a bell, in which the clapper, by means of a cord attached to it and pulled from below, is allowed to swing against the bell at rest, is often employed to save trouble; but the jar is very likely to crack the bell. In ringing, or in true chiming, the bell is in motion when struck.

For ringing, a bell is pulled up and “set” mouth uppermost. She (to ringers a bell is feminine) is then pulled off, first at “handstroke” (i.e. with the hands on the “sally” or tufted portion of the rope, a few feet from its lower end) and then at “back-stroke” in the reverse direction (with the hands nearer the lower end, the rope having at the previous pull coiled round three-quarters of the wheel’s circumference), describing at each pull almost a full circle till she comes back to the upright position. At each revolution the swing is chiefly done by the weight of the bell, the ringer giving a pull of just sufficient strength to bring the bell back into the upright position; otherwise its swing would become gradually shorter till it remained at rest mouth downwards.

Change-ringing.—When a given number of bells are rung over and over again in the same order, from the highest note, or “treble,” to the lowest, or “tenor”—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7—they are said to be rung in “rounds.” “Changes” are variations of this order—e.g. 2 1 3 5 4 7 6, 2 3 1 4 5 6 7; and “change-ringing” is the art of ringing bells in “changes,” so that a different “change” or rearrangement of order is produced at each pull of the bell-ropes, until, without any repetition of the same change, the bells come back into “rounds.” The general principle of all methods of change-ringing is that each bell, after striking in the first place or “lead,” works gradually “up” to the last place or “behind,” and “down” again to the first, and that no bell ever shifts more than one place in each change. Thus the ringer of any bell knows that whatever his position in one change, his place in the next will be either the same, or the place before or the place after. He does not have to learn by heart the different changes or variations of order; nor need he, unless he is the “conductor,” know the exact order of any one change. He has to bear in mind, first, which way his bell is working, viz. whether “up” from first to last place, or “down” from last to first; secondly, in what place his bell is striking; thirdly, what bell or bells are striking immediately before or after him—this being ascertained chiefly by “rope-sight,” i.e. the knack, acquired by practice, of seeing which rope is being pulled immediately before and after his own. He must also remember and apply the rules of the particular “method” which is being rung. The following table representing the first twenty changes of a “plain course” of “Grandsire Triples” (for these terms, see below) illustrates the subject-matter of this section:—


1 2 3 4 5 6 7“Rounds.”
2 1 3 5 4 7 6(1st change.)
2 3 1 4 5 6 7
3 2 4 1 6 5 7
3 4 2 6 1 7 5
4 3 6 2 7 1 5(5th change.)
4 6 3 7 2 5 1
6 4 7 3 5 2 1
6 7 4 5 3 1 2
7 6 5 4 1 3 2

7 5 6 1 4 2 3(10th change.)
5 7 1 6 2 4 3
5 1 7 2 6 3 4
1 5 2 7 3 6 4
1 2 5 3 7 4 6
2 1 5 7 3 6 4 (15th change.)
2 5 1 3 7 4 6
5 2 3 1 4 7 6
5 3 2 4 1 6 7
3 5 4 2 6 1 7
3 4 5 6 2 7 1(20th change.)


It will be observed that at the 1st change the third bell and at the 15th the fifth bell, according to the rule of this “method,” strikes a second blow in the third place (“makes third’s place”). This stops the regular work of the bells which at the previous change were in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th places (“in 4, 5, 6, 7”), causing them to take a step backwards in their course “up” or “down,” or as it is technically called, to “dodge.” Were it not for this, the bells would come back into “rounds” at the 14th change. It is by the use of “place-making” and “dodging,” according to the rules of various “methods,” that the required number of changes, upon any number of bells, can be produced. But in order that this may be done, without the bells coming back into “rounds” (as, e.g. in the “plain course” of Grandsire Triples, above given, they will do in seventy changes), further modifications of the “coursing order,” called technically “Bobs” and “Singles,” must be introduced. In ringing, notice of these alterations as they occur is given by one of the ringers, who acts as “conductor,” calling out “Bob” or “Single” at the right moment to warn the ringers of certain bells to make the requisite alteration in the regular work of their bells. (Hence, in ringing language, to “call” a peal or touch = to conduct it.) Particulars of these, as of other details of change-ringing, may be gathered from books dealing with the technique of the art; but they are best mastered in actual practice. The term “single,” applied to five-bell ringing meant that, as the first three bells remained unchanged, only a single pair of bells changed places, e.g. 1 5 4 3 2, 1 5 4 2 3. On larger numbers of bells it loses this meaning; but the effect of this “call” is that the “coursing order” of a single pair of bells is inverted. The origin of “Bob” is unknown. As a “call” it was perhaps adopted as a short, sharp sound, easily uttered and easily heard by the ringers. As applied to a “method” or system of ringing it may refer to the evolution of “dodging,” e.g. in “Treble Bob” to the zigzag “dodging” path of the treble bell; but none of the old writers attempts to explain it.

The number of possible “changes” on any given series of bells may be ascertained, according to the mathematical formula of “permutations,” by multiplying the number of the bells together. Thus on three bells, only 6 changes or variations of order (1 × 2 × 3) can be produced; on four bells, 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 = 24; on five, 24 × 5 = 120; on six, 120 × 6 = 720; on seven, 720 × 7 = 5040. A “peal” on any such number of bells is in ordinary language the ringing of all the possible changes. But technically, only the full extent of changes upon seven bells, usually rung with a “tenor behind,” is called a “peal”; a shorter performance upon seven or more bells, or the full extent upon less than seven, being, in ringing parlance, a “touch.” On six bells the full extent of changes must be repeated continuously seven times (720 × 7 = 5040), and on five bells forty-two times (l20 × 42 = 5040) to rank as a “peal.” On eight or more bells 5000 changes in round numbers is accepted as the minimum standard for a peal; and on such numbers of bells up to twelve (the largest number used in change-ringing), peals are so arranged that the bells come into rounds at, or at some point beyond,