Bell reflections

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Letter to his parents, 3rd July 1943

When the bells of the prison chapel start ringing at about six o'clock on a Saturday evening, that is the best time to write home. It's remarkable what power church bells can have over human beings, and how deeply they can affect us. So many of our life's experiences gather round them. All discontent, ingratitude and selfishness melt away, and in a moment we are left with only our pleasant memories hovering around us like gracious spirits. I always think first of those quiet summer evenings in Friedrichsbrunn, then of all the different parishes that I have worked in, then of all our family occasions, weddings, christenings and confirmations - tomorrow, my godchild is being confirmed! - I really cannot count all the memories that come alive to me, and they all inspire peace, thankfulness, and confidence. If only one could help other people more!...

John Betjeman
Summoned by Bells (1960), chapter VIII

The time was tea-time, calm free-wheeling time,
When from slashed tree-tops in the combe below
I heard a bell-note floating to the sun:
It gave significance to lichened stone
And large red admirals with outspread wings
Basking on buddleia. So, coasting down
In the cool shade of interlacing boughs,
I found St Ervan's partly ruined church.
Its bearded Rector, holding in one hand
A gong-stick, in the other hand a book,
Struck, while he read, a heavy-sounding bell,
Hung from an elm bough by the churchyard gate.
"Better come in. It's time for Evensong."
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 12th July 2003