In 1970, as a young teacher in
When eventually I did arrive in
This was something I did with such
meticulous regularity on the
On my second morning in the Australian parish of Ararat, as on the first morning, I again gave the bell twelve good rings. Just as I finished, the door of a nearby house burst open and the raucous voice of a local harridan, a female equivalent of Barry Mackenzie, ripped the air apart and poured appalling abuse and calumny upon my head for so disturbing the peace! My Rector refused to let me call the harridan's bluff and so Ararat, sadly, never grew accustomed to being woken by the tolling of a Matin Chime.
I love bells. So did that most attractive of Anglicans, John Betjeman. His blank‑verse autobiographical poem is entitled Summoned By Bells. I too have been summoned to worship by a glorious peal of bells in lovely English country towns many times. Bells peal throughout Betjeman's verse, one of his poems is called On Hearing the Full Peal of Ten Bells from Christ Church, Swindon, Wilts., an admirable mouthful of a title for a poem, but bettered by that of another of his splendid verses: Church of England Thoughts Occasioned by Hearing the Bells of Magdalene Tower from the Botanic Gardens, Oxford on St Mary Magdalene's Day........
A multiplicity of bells,
A changing cadence, rich and deep
Swung from those pinnacles on high
To fill the trees and flood the sky
And rock the sailing clouds to sleep.
A Church of England sound, it tells
Of "moderate" worship, God and State,
Where matins congregations go
Conservative and good and slow
To elevations of the plate.
And loud through resin‑scented chines
And purple rhododendrons roll'd,
I hear the bells for Eucharist
From churches blue with incense mist
Where reredoses twinkle gold....
The bell of my theological college chapel was an awkward brute with a mind of its own. All students were required to take on a weekly stint of chapel‑bell ringing in turn. To ring the Angelus properly on the College bell, without unwanted grace‑notes, required great skill and was a matter of some pride to anglo catholic students at least. Those of a more protestant persuasion used to delight to make a hash of it! One student in particular took too great a pride in his efforts and so a prankster climbed the chapel's roof and tied fishing line to the clapper. The Angelus began: dong, dong, dong.... The first nine rings were meticulously rung, there followed the customary devotional, reverential though proud silence, and then suddenly a frenzied d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.dong, on and on and on! How we, and I hope the angels, laughed.
I once repaired the rope attached to
the clapper of the bell on
People were summoned to worship in
the mission station churches of my youth, in