"The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ring The Bells Of Heaven

In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses,
Zechariah 14:20

Bells on horses symbolized the coming of someone important on horseback. Our Lord Jesus Christ will come on a white horse with bells that have inscribed on them-Holiness Unto The Lord.

Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land; Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Author: Lord Alfred Tennyson

In medieval times, the ringing of bells was believed necessary to chase evil spirits from doorsteps, to quiet storms at sea, or to protect a person's soul at death. Common belief was that the ringing of the bells drove away the storms bothering the ships and calmed the sea. Helping those in peril on the sea. Evil spirits such as demons standing at the foot of the bed and about the house might try to molest or harass the soul departing. The evil spirits were afraid of the bells. Thus, driving the evil spirits away. The larger and louder the bell, the further they were drove away. The custom was to baptize the bells to endow them with power to do this.

It was during this time that the custom of affixing symbols and inscriptions on bells was born. Each inscription told of the purpose for that particular bell. They were inscribed with a special prayer or to mark it with the soul of the donor.

Bells were used as early timekeepers telling villages when to eat and when to sleep and, as necessary, alerting them of dangers such as imminent invasion from opposing camps. Bells tolled whenever someone lay near death to remind the community to pray for the sick, and upon death, the bell tolled out his age. A church bell was rung as death drew near, the purpose of this "Passing Bell" was to remind people to pray for the dying. It is said that a person never forgot the sound of his village bell, no matter how many years he was away from home.

Church bells were the most popular and remembered of all bells. The ringing of the bells symbolized things and events in daily live. But also represented major changes such as a baptism, wedding, or a death.

The sound of a church bell is sincere and revered, while the rolling of several church bells is like a gallant concert for royalty. The mighty roll of bells has an effect on our inner sensitivity, arousing our souls from spiritual slumber. The sounds of the bells awakens the soul to a new life with God and runs away the feelings of hopelessness, doubt, and depression. The bells ringing was signal to come and gather at God's house. The calling to join other believers in songs of praise to God and the joy of being around others who loved God. The bells crying out to come rest from your work and troubles. A call to be at peace.

The resounding noise of bell rings as far as east is from west. All the people could hear it in the town or village. Sometimes as a warning signal of something approaching. At sea, it was given as a warning sign of poor visibility or fog.

Ringing your own bell, particularly a hand bell, was commonly used in households to summon someone. For example, to call for someone to help you if you are ill and you need a caregiver. Hand bells were paticularly used in worship settings. They were in use to play special hymns. The hand bells were utilized to make various melodies. It takes practice to make beautiful music with hand bells. At Christmas time, many songs are sung to the sound of hand bells. In past times, only holy men could touch the hand bells at the church.

Bells had symbolic meaning. A bell together with an hour glass means transitoriness, an impermanence that suggests the inevitability of ending or dying. Before the advent of the chronometer, time at sea was measured by the trickle of sand through a half - hour glass. One of the ship’s boys had the duty of watching the glass and turning it when the sand had run out. When he turned the glass, he struck the bell as a signal that he had performed this vital function. From this ringing of the bell as the glass was turned evolved the tradition of striking the bell once at the end of the first half hour of a four hour watch, twice after the first hour, etc., until eight bells marked the end of the four hour watch. The process was repeated for the succeeding watches. This age-old practice of sounding the bell on the hour and half hour has its place in the ship's daily routine. A tolling of keeping time. As many church bells in their towers mark the hour through out the day. Stopping only at night at most churches. An hour glass representing the passage of time. The bell marking the time each hour by the hour glass until the last toll of the bell for the day.

God's protection is even symbolized in the shape of a diver's bell. The shape protecting the diver on a deep dive.

My father wrote on his deathbed about bells. He wrote of heaven's bells as,"A bell can't be a bell till you ring it." Writing this on a tablet with his trembling hands. All a day or two before his death.

I believe his bell was rung with his name on it. He had to ring it personally to send his prayer inscribed on it to God. Calling him to help him at that dark point in his life. To cause the demons to flee from him and take their whisperings of fears and doubt with them. Calming the storms that had come against his soul. The closer the light of Christ came the louder the bell tolled. Driving the dark ones farther away. Ringing that one last toll himself to mark the end of time as he knew it. Calling him to God's holy place where time is no more. Where the hour glass is broken and no more telling the bell to toll out time. The bell called him to take his rest in the holiest of holy. The darkness was over. Time to sing the praises to God with the others whose bells had finally tolled. Our last prayers had been spoken on his behalf. Now he spoke directly with God. Before him he stood a holy man ringing out songs with his voice and maybe even hand bells to the most wondrous orchestra ever known.

This is just one of many things he wrote and told us preceding his death. He exclaimed of stories of sounds, visions, and love our Savior let him behold to encourage him. But also in my clumsy way to try to share this with you. He told me that I had to strike the bell to hear the tones of the bell for myself. Lord, may my own personal bell be rung for you, thus, ringing me home.

His mother rung a dinner bell to call him home. He answered the call. Our heavenly father rings a bell for us calling us home. We ring our bell signaling him were ready to go home.

Ring the bells of heaven, dad. Ring the bells of heaven.

Lance Gargus

For Whom the Bell Tolls
John Donne

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member.

And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is.

The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that this occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God.

Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours.

Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.

No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction.

If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels.

Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it.

Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

Holy Spirit,Doves,Love,Children,Heaven


FishHawk said...

Wow, I did not know that bells are thought of as being good for more than just the marking of time and location, as well as for entertainment purposes.

Enemy of the Republic said...


Sometimes when we hear a bell, it also may be announcing the presence of an angel. Bells are important in other religions as well. When my mom visited Tibet, she brought home a prayer wheel and a bell--used often in Tibetian Buddhaism. I want to say that it is also important in the Shinto faith in Japan, but I would have to check.

That is just beautiful about your father. It wasn't like that with my mom.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Great analogy and I learned a lot from this post!

Vanessa said...

Some interesting information and thoughts. I had never thought about bells in that way. It gives more significance to the scripture at the beginning of your post.

Kim said...

That was really fascinating and uplifting. I didn't know those meanings regarding bells. Very interesting!!

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