An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Change Ringing

The ringing of tower bells of different tones in a precise relationship to each other in order to produce a pleasing cascade of sound. The sequence of bells is varied from “row” to “row” of bells, but the rhythm does not vary. Bells “change” places with adjacent bells in the sequence of the row to produce pleasing variations in the sound. A “ring” of bells has four to twelve bronze bells. These bells may vary in weight from a few hundred pounds to several tons. Each bell is attached to a wooden wheel and hung in a frame that allows the bell to swing through 360 degrees. There is one “ringer” for each bell. The ropes of the bells hang in a circle in the ringing chamber below the bells. The ringers typically stand in a circle to ring the bells. Peal ringing has 5,000 or more changes without a break or the repeating of a row. Peals usually last about three hours. Peal ringing dates from 1715 in England. In 1850 the first peal in North America was rung at Christ Church, Philadelphia.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.