by Jesse Ratcliffe
“A carillon brings joy and happiness to the people. It enriches our daily lives as it fills our living space with wonderful music. The bells play for all people--rich and poor; sick and healthy; believers and non-believers.”
– Jo Haazen, former director of the Royal Carillon School, Belgium
The All Saint’s Tower houses twenty-five bells that were cast by the Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in Asten Holland in 1982. All 25 bells are fitted with electro-magnetic strikers activated by a computer system to play various melodies, as well as the hour strike. Of the 25 bells, 10 are fitted to swing and 15 are stationary. On the first level of the belfry are six bells mounted in special frame and rung via ropes, these are referred to as “change ring” bells. Above those bells reside four very large bells that also swing, but by electric motors rather than ropes—one of these bells is affectionately known as “Big Bob”. On the topmost level of the belfry frame live the 15 “carillon bells” which do not swing.
At the end of May, a Fort Worth representative of Chime Master, a bell and clock company in Ohio, traveled to Abilene to inspect the entire instrument. Bell instruments are much like any other keyboard instrument, it requires routine preventative maintenance to ensure all moving parts are functioning—in the case of bells, safe for operation. Over the years various pieces of equipment have vibrated loose rendering the instrument unsafe. That equipment includes bolts that hold the bells and bell motors onto the bells frame, as well as very loose clappers in the four largest swinging bells. A repair visit was scheduled in mid-June. All parts of the carillon were again re-evaluated, and missing or loose hardware was addressed. A second visit to ensure the motors on the four large swinging bells are functioning, and to tighten their clappers, is on the horizon.
It is a joy to know that all the bells will find their voice again soon. If you are interested in the change-ring guild at Heavenly Rest, please contact Jesse Ratcliffe (firstname.lastname@example.org).