Since Easter Morning of 1881 the bells of St. Paul’s have rung on Sunday mornings to proclaim the resurrection of the Lord. The ten-bell chime in the Bell Tower is the voice of the church, calling to parishioners and the Dedham community before the weekly church service and on many other occasions each year. The chime is rung each Sunday morning before the 10:00 a.m. service, from 9:30 – 9:50 a.m. and again at the close of the service. The bells are also rung at weddings and funerals when requested by families and on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day and Independence Day. Interested parishioners are invited to enter the Bell Tower while the chimes are being rung.
If you would like to join the cadre of “chimesmasters,” please contact the Parish Office and we will be happy to pair you with a chimesmaster who will provide training.
Contact: Polly Pierce
The present chime is not the first the parish of St. Paul's has had. The original Franklin Square church building, constructed around 1800, contained a single bell. Although it was moved when the building was relocated to Court Street and Village Avenue in 1846, the bell was destroyed when the wooden church burned to the ground in 1856. Ira Cleveland presented St. Paul's with a new 3,000-pound bell when the present stone structure was completed. On Easter 1881, after the first bell he donated had cracked, Cleveland gave the church ten bells, the same ones that remain in the steeple today.
While Cleveland paid $5,468.90 for the chime, the cost of cast bells today is so high that many churches are installing electronic ones. St. Paul's is one of the few that has maintained and continues to use its chime.
The ten bells range from 3,050 pounds, 52 1/2 inches in diameter to 253 pounds, 23 inches. In all, there is more than 11,000 pounds of bronze in the 140-foot steeple. Cleveland had seven of the bells inscribed which were all made by Meneely & Co., of West Troy, New York. The inscriptions, weights and diameters of the bells are listed here, from largest to smallest.
|Glory to God in the Highest and on
Earth Peace, Goodwill to Men
|3050 lbs.||52 1/2 in.|
|Sacred to the memory of Reverend Samuel Brazer Babcock. D. D.
Rector of St Paul's Church, Dedham, 1832-1873. Died October, 25, 1873.
|2028 lbs.||46 3/4 in.|
|We Praise Thee||1514 lbs.||41 7/8 in.|
|We Bless Thee||1281 lbs.||39 3/4 in.|
|We Worship Thee||888 lbs.||34 7/8 in.|
|We Glorify Thee||655 lbs.||31 5/16 in.|
|We Give Thanks to thee
for Thy Great Glory
|564 lbs.||29 3/4 in.|
|(no inscription)||463 lbs.||27 7/8 in.|
|(no inscription)||377 lbs.||23 3/16 in.|
|(no inscription)||253 lbs.||23 in.|
Unlike some types of bells, these remain stationary except for their clappers. The chime is rung not by pulling at great ropes, but rather with the help of a console. The chimesmaster—one who rings a chime of nine or more bells—stands at the console and moves its levers. These levers, originally connected to the clappers by wooden rods and now by steel cables, enable the musician to play hymns and rounds from the ringing room in the tower.
CONTINUING THE TRADITION
Arthur Nathaniel Daniels became chimesmaster in 1893, just two years after the chime was dedicated. He continued in that role until 1930, when his son Irving Wagner Daniels took over this ministry, which is commemorated with a plaque near the stairs to the ringing room. Irving Daniels, who lived in Needham, rang the bells every Sunday and maintained them until his death in 1984.
Bernice Hunt, an assistant to Daniels since 1979, became the primary chimesmaster at that time and assembled a group of volunteers to share in the responsibility of ringing each Sunday. She believed it was important to continue the tradition of dedication and consistency that was begun by Arthur and Irving Daniels. Sadly, Bernice Hunt died in 2009 leaving a rich legacy of bell-ringing. A plaque in her honor was hung, alongside the one commemorating the work of the Daniels. Our current troupe of chimesmasters includes Virginia Corliss, Prescott Crocker, Rick Edie, Ian Mackenzie, Polly Pierce and Ned Roberst. Also in 2009 the Bells were completely refurbished, with new clappers, springs, hanging bolts, cables, and a new clavier (console -- pictured here). The instrument is in good shape and will continue to be the "voice of St. Paul's" for many years to come.
The chime is rung each Sunday morning before the 10:00 a.m. service, from 9:30 to 9:50 a.m. and again at the close of the service. The bells are also rung at weddings and funerals when requested by families and on special occasions such as New Year's Eve, Memorial Day and Independence Day. Interested parishioners are invited to enter the Bell Tower while the chimes are being rung.