Rector's November Letter

Thou didst ears and hands and voices for thy praise design

In November the bell ringers at St John’s will be hosting the Cary Branch of Ringers for their annual AGM and service. We can be thankful that whether in the rural village church or at the centre of a busy marketplace, church bells have been calling the faithful to prayer and reminding communities of the worship offered on their behalf.

It is canon law in the Church of England “that in every church and chapel there shall be at least one bell to ring the people to divine service”.  There are at present over 5200 churches in England with rings of five or more bells and there are over 3000 bells cast in medieval times that are still rung. Bells are rung to summon the faithful to worship, to celebrate weddings and festivals and to mark national thanksgivings.  Muffled bells are sometimes rung at funerals and at times of local or national disaster.  During times of national emergency it has always been understood that church bells would be rung as a warning of invasion.

Have you ever been up to our bell towers in Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port on a Wednesday practice night and watched the ringing?  It is not as easy as just pulling on a rope.  It takes a lot of practice to learn how to handle a bell and to ring it so it sounds in the right place in a sequence.  After starting in repetitive rounds, at a given command, the ringers vary the bells' order, to produce a series of distinct sequences known as rows or changes. There are thousands of different methods which ringers learn off by heart, and each method has a name.

At the service we will be thanking God for the skill of our bellringers. I have been searching for some suitable hymns. One favourite is Angel Voices, with the verse:

               Yea, we know that thou rejoicest             
               o'er each work of thine;
               thou didst ears and hands and voices
               for thy praise design;
               craftsman's art and music's measure
               for thy pleasure
               all combine.

I for one rejoice at the skill of our bellringers and give thanks for their service to the church and for their craftsmanship in producing the lovely sound that calls us to worship. I especially want to thank our faithful bands in Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port for keeping this ancient craft going in our villages.

If you would like to learn I am sure our tower captains would love to hear from you.

Rev Sarah

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