Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Every time a bell rings . . . "

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

My husband has been an usher at our church for many years. Most of the time, I get roped into helping out, which is ok. And if anyone reading this belongs to our church, he gets credit for making up the usher schedule, but I am the one who actually does it.

We have a lot of traditions in our church, as most congregations do, and one of those traditions is that one of the ushers rings the bell three times during the Lord’s Prayer, after the first “heaven”, the second “heaven” and “evil”. My husband asked a while back why we do that. I didn’t know the answer (there are more things I don’t know about church practices than things I do know).

I finally got around to looking it up on line. I thought it had something to do with those particular words, or maybe someone wanted the bell rang three times in remembrance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and they just randomly chose those particular three words. My husband thought it was something to do with life, death and resurrection.

According to the internet, it is nothing that deep. The bell is rung for the benefit of those outside and not inside. Back in the day, not everyone could make it to church; they had a valid excuse, unlike people of today. Workers in the field or servants who had to stay home to make the meal while the masters were in church would hear the bell ring as a signal to begin the Lord’s Prayer. The second ringing would let them know where they should be in the Prayer and the third ringing would indicate they should be finished praying.

Most churches had at least two bells. The larger and louder one tolled at the start of the service to call parishioners to worship. The smaller bell was called the “Pater”, after the Latin name of the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster or Our Father.

The German in me likes the other name this bell was often given, the Kartoffelglock, or potato bell. When the servants working at home heard the bell it was their signal that the church service was almost over. Which meant that if dinner was to be on the table when their masters got home, it was time to put the potatoes on to boil.

I don’t know if any of this information is going to inspire you today. If nothing else, whenever you hear a bell ring, instead of just repeating “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings”, maybe you will say a prayer as well. 
One of the many churches I saw in Ayacucho, Peru. Which bell was the Kartoffelglock? Or would it be cuy campana


Denise said...

Ok here is my uneducated guess.the bells on the left,,but why 3 is my question. Mostly I just want to thank you...why you ask? Because as you said I can now think of something else when I hear bells.

Elizabeth Olmstead McBride said...

Enjoyed learning the history behind the bells. And Lord help the German or Irish wife who didn't have the potatoes ready for Sunday dinner!

I miss the days of Sunday Mass followed by coffeecake (made by a Polish friend) at my parents' friends, followed by a large farm Sunday dinner at the Olmstead Homestead or one of the Olmstead cousins. No one cooked better than those farm wives.

Mary Repinski said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing that. I would have thought it was something to do with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Hmm...