The sound of Chapel Bells has become an iconic symbol of worship in the Christian Church. After many years of love and dedication, the bell tower at Church of the Ascension was filled with the sound of 10 newly installed bells on September 12, 2015.
There are many things that make these bells a special addition to the Rochester community. In western New York the nearest bell tower is in Toronto, Canada (175 miles away); and if we stay in this country, the nearest are in Pittsburgh (300 miles), New York City (340 miles), Brewster, New York (also about 340 miles), and Philadelphia (350 miles).
The bells came to life across the Atlantic, where Whitechapel’s foundry workers drew up the plans, cast and tuned the bells and made the fittings that enable them to swing. The frame the bells sit in was assembled and the bells placed in it o make sure everything fit properly. Everything was disassembled, painted or galvanized, and shipped to Church of the Ascension.
The Ceremony of Blessing and Dedication took place on November 21, with The Right Reverend Prince G. Singh, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, presiding, alongside the Rector, the Reverend Dahn D. Gandell. The dedication service began with Bishop Singh climbing the 30 spiral steps to the bell chamber wearing his robes, and there blessing them, sprinkling them with water, and wafting incense over them. The service continued, once the Bishop was safely back at ground level, with welcome, hymns, prayers, psalms, and a fair amount of talking by Chris and Helen Haller, the major donors of the bells.
There are ten bells at Ascension hung for change ringing (the ringing of sets of church bells or handbells in a constantly varying order). Each bell is inscribed with one or two appropriate lines from Stanza 106 of “In Memoriam” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The bells are rung before and after the 10:15 AM Sunday service (when a minimum of three ringers are available); and that the ringers practice on Friday evenings between 6:30 and 8 PM.
Anybody considering a visit to ring should check with Chris Haller (585-203-7457; firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm that ringing will take place on the proposed date.
In the News
November 2015, TWC News, Church of the Ascension Finally Rings Rare Bells for Community
October 2015, Democrat & Chronicle, City church gets bold new bells
September 2015, TWC News, Historic Bells Will Be Ringing at Church of the Ascension by September's End
August 2015, North American Guild of Change Ringers, Progress on Rochester Bells