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First Quarter Peal for Orleans

On the occasion of the Blessing of the Bell Tower

by Br. Matthew Gillis, CJ

June 13th, 2010, was a milestone day at the bell tower of the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts, home church of the monastic Community of Jesus. As part of a special weekend celebrating the 10th anniversary of the church’s dedication and featuring many of the artists and artisans responsible for furnishing its art program, a band assembled to mark the occasion with the first-ever quarter peal rung on the 10 bells of the tower. Following a festival Eucharist which opened with a blessing rite for the new tower – accompanied (fittingly, for those in attendance at the inaugural ring last September!) by heavy summer showers –and the bronze angel at its peak, 9 “guest” ringers took hold and launched into a touch of Grandsire Caters. The rain had stopped by then, and many congregants spilling out the church’s doors made their way across the common to take in the spectacle – new to most – of rapid changes performed with great precision. Indeed, such excitement ensued, amid the clangor of the bells, that a gentle reminder was needed by conductor Ed Futcher for quiet near the tower so his calls and bell striking could be heard properly. Kudos to the ringers who didn’t become distracted by the unusual setting and carried off the quarter peal under Ed’s direction with élan. They were, beginning on treble with Danielle Morse and going in order: Geoff Davies, Emily Russell, Greg Hinson, Neil Glazebrook, Elaine Hansen, Greg Russell, Andrew Tyler, and Ed Futcher, with me at his elbow covering on the tenor bell.

One other thing of note was the honor of having Alan and Kathryn Hughes from Whitechapel Bell Foundry in attendance for this occasion. The Hughes gave a joint public presentation on Saturday, covering in very interesting detail the history and technology of bell casting and the rudiments and ethos of English change-ringing. Kathryn, who is a long-time ringer, mentioned how she had rung with Ed in college some 30 years ago but hadn’t seen him since. Indeed, she and Alan did stop by to greet and congratulate the band on Sunday, taking as they do both a personal and a professional interest in the ringing of these new bells. For us members of the Community of Jesus who have been busy learning this new art, it was encouraging to hear of their surprise at how far we’ve come. That, of course, is more of a credit to the active support we’ve enjoyed from the NAGCR community – those directly teaching us and the many others teaching by example in our visits to other towers. A small example would be the seemingly random coincidence that Lyn Barnett and Bill Buckner from North Carolina happened to be on the Cape (in Orleans I believe!) on Saturday the 12th and were able to observe and help our ringers in rounds and plain hunting after the Evensong service. We look forward to welcoming many more members of the bell-ringing community in the future, learning from them and sharing in important occasions such as the one we had last weekend.

Br. Matthew Gillis, CJ

June 20, 2010

Posted Jun 20, 2010

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