Bell Sunday

14th May 2023

St Dunstan is known as the Patron Saint of Bellringers due to his experimentation in early forging of bells in the 900’sCE.  It is this reason we have chosen the nearest Sunday to his feast day (19th May) to introduce Bell Sunday; a day where the contribution of bells and Bellringers to the life of the Church is recognised. 

With co-operation between Church and Bellringers it may be possible to be involved in a Service on the day, from reading lessons, giving a talk instead of a Sermon, playing handbells, singing bell related hymns, readings and prayers, all associated with bells and Bellringers. Even bell-shaped biscuits served with after Service refreshments. 

We are putting together a series of resources to assist with the arrangements – suggestions on how to take an active part in Services or using it as an opportunity to demonstrate bellringing and show people the bells, even use it for a bit of cheeky recruitment.   

It is hoped the day will raise awareness, emphasise the importance of the sound of bells in our Communities and how it can help bring Church and Community together, strengthening relationships between Clergy and Bellringers. 

“I hope as many towers as possible will join in. There are plans to open up towers to the public, so visitors can watch the bells being rung – and perhaps even sign up to learn the ancient art of bell-ringing”

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith – Bishop of St Albans
The Church Times – 24 February 2023 

 We have listed below some suggestions on how to make the most of the day, including hymns, readings, prayers and music. If you want to any to the list please send a link to the relevant site to   

How to be involved

Here are a few suggestions of how to get involved. We’d love to hear what other ideas you have, contact   

  • Host an exhibition of photographs, bell related equipment etc highlighting what ringing is all about and introducing “Who’s  Who?” in your tower 
  • Host an open day to demonstrate bellringing and the bells, giving people an opportunity to visit the ringing room and have a go 
  • Flower arrangements could be in the shape of bells and incorporate bell related equipment 
  • Choirs could be invited to sing a bell anthem 
  • Organists could play bell related music as a voluntary 
  • Junior Church could play handbells, or have a go at chiming a bell 
  • Ringers support the after service refreshments and provide tasty bell shaped goodies 
  • Articles in the parish magazine 

When copying hymns, songs lyrics, music, poetry, readings etc for printed service sheets, please ensure the appropriate copyright requirements are followed. 

Hymns / Songs

Here are few suggestions of suitable hymns: 

  • Let bells peal forth | tune: WOODLANDS | written for the dedication of bells at Durham Cathedral and published in NEH 
  • Ring out, ye bells below | tune: TAVISTOCK (or e.g. DARWALL’S 148TH) | written for the Devon Association 
  • Unchanging God, who livest | tune: BELFRY PRAISE (or e.g. AURELIA) | published by A&M as the ‘bellringer’s hymn’ 
  • Ring! Ringers, Ring! | tune: HAGDYKE | written in 2019 for the Dunster Branch of the Bath and Wells Association 

Other hymns available from  

  • Ring out, glad bells! 
  • Ring Christ, ring Mary, 
  • Raised aloft within the steeple 
  • God, Who madest time and space 
  • Fling, ye bells, your songs 
  • Mighty God this earth is Thine, 
  • Ye joyful bells, ring out your praise 
  • Glad bells ring loud and clear 
  • Holy Father! Bless them, 
  • Ring forth holy bells 
  • The sacred bells of England 
  • Come, ringers, man your belfries 
  • Ring the bells with gladness 
  • We who ring the bells of churches 

Other ringing hymns: 

Oher hymns not written specifically for ringing: 

Bible Readings

With ideas for reflection or preaching

Readings Relating to Bells and their Sound 

Exodus 28.31-35  

Bells are used as part of Aaron’s priestly garments so that the Israelites can hear him when he enters the Holy of Holies. They therefore signify the presence of God and the assurance of sins forgiven by their sound. 

Numbers 10.1-10  

Creating a loud noise (using trumpets here rather than bells) is connected to times of meeting, the threat of danger, days of rejoicing, and times of worship. This noise is to remind God of the presence of the people, and the people of the presence and Lordship of God. 

Psalm 150  

Musical instruments, including ‘ringing’ and ‘clashing’ cymbals, are used to praise God. 

Luke 4.14-21 

Jesus affirms that the proclamation of the kingdom is fulfilled wherever he is to be found. Bells are elsewhere associated with these moments of proclamation. 

1 Corinthians 9.13-18 

The gospel is to be proclaimed freely and generously with no material reward, just as bells ring out openly across the community. The largest bell at St Paul’s Cathedral is inscribed with a quotation from this passage: ‘Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel.’ 

Revelation 11.15-19 

Loud noise is associated with the transformation of the world into God’s kingdom, and encouraging people to praise, thanksgiving and worship. 

Readings Related to Change Ringing 

Isaiah 30.12-15a 

Salvation and strength come at times of homecoming and rest. The music of change ringing can be particularly evocative when bells return to their ‘home’ or starting positions. 

Psalm 119.1-8, [9-16] 

The poetry of the psalm invites people to meditate on the ‘statutes’ and ‘commandments’ of God through a process of repetition and variation. Change ringing similarly uses changing patterns to create its music. 

1 Corinthians 12.4-13 

There are a variety of gifts, from one Spirit; or a variety of members which make up one body. Change ringing relies on different members of the band performing different tasks to make one piece of music. 

Readings & Poetry

Music for Choir and/or Organ 

  • In the City of the Lord, John Harper | SATB + organ | text from the antiphon for the blessing of a bell from the Bangor Pontifical (c.1300) 
  • Sing Ye Faithful, Sing with Gladness, Richard Dirksen | SSAATB + organ | final verse includes repeated ‘alleluia’ in Queens 
  • Carillon de Westminster, Louis Vierne | organ | fantasia on the Westminster Chimes 
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