Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Bells and Russian Orthodox Peals - The Forms of Bell Ringing and Their Names.

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The Forms of Bell Ringing and Their Names.

The manner of church bell ringing is divided into two basic forms: 1. the measured ringing of the bell to announce church services, and 2. ringing of all the bells.

Ringing to Announce Church Services.

By the "announcement of church services" is meant the measured strokes of one large bell. By this sound, the faithful are called together to the temple of God for divine services. In Russian it is known as the "Good news bell" because it announces the blessed, good news of the beginning of divine services.

The "good news peal" is accomplished thus. First there are produced three widely spaced, slow, prolonged strokes, so as to sustain the sound of the bell, followed by measured strokes. If the bell is very heavy or of great dimensions, the measured strokes are produced by the swinging of the clapper from side to side of the bell. If the bell is of medium size, then its clapper is drawn sufficiently close to the rim by a rope. The rope is attached to a wooden foot pedal, and with pressure from the bell-ringer's feet, the sound is produced.

The "good news peal" is subdivided in turn into two types:

  1. The usual or hourly peal, produced with the largest bell.
  2. The lenten or occasional peal, produced on the next largest bell on weekdays of the Great Fast.

If the church has several large bells, as is usually the case in cathedrals or large monasteries, then the size of the bells corresponds to their significance:

  1. the holiday bell,
  2. the Sunday bell,
  3. the polyeleos bell,
  4. the daily bell, and
  5. the fifth, or small bell. Usually in parishes there are no more that two or three large bells.

The ringing of all the bells is subdivided as follows:

  1. Trezvon (Peal) - thrice-sounded, multiple bell ringing. This is the simultaneous ringing of all the bells, then a brief pause, a second ringing of all the bells, again a brief pause, and a third ringing of all the bells, i.e., a simultaneous ringing of all the bells three times, or a ringing in three refrains.
  2. Dvuzvon - twice rung. This is the simultaneous ringing of all the bells twice, in two refrains.
  3. Perezvon (Chain Ringing) - this is the ringing of each bell in turn, with either one or several strokes of each bell, beginning with the largest to the very smallest, and then repeating several times.
  4. Perebor (Toll) - This is the slow, single peal of each bell in turn, beginning with the smallest to the largest, and after the stroke on the largest bell all the bells are immediately struck together; then this is repeated several times.

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