Early Bells
There is no record of when the bell was invented. There are pictures from early Chinese dynasties which clearly show bells. Indeed, they have been used by different civilizations in religious rites even before the development of a written language. Bells are mentioned in the book of Exodus as part of Hebrew worship, and they are shown decorating the robes of priests.
The early founders of the Celtic church in Britain - Saints Aiden, Cedd, and Patrick - brought with them four-sided bells similar to Austrian cow bells. St. Patrick's bell is still in his shrine in Dublin. In fact, the first bells to have appeared in England were handbells, the Romans having used them to summon their servants.
When the Christian church was recognized by Constantine in Rome and came out of hiding, founders began to increase the size of bells, and priests hung them on the outside of their churches. Paulinus at Nola in Campania is supposedly the first to have done this, and from his act derives the words campanile and campanology.
the art of bell ringing
a usually freestanding bell tower
One of the rules of the church from this time period read, "Let all priests, at the appointed hours, day and night, toll the bells in their churches and then celebrate divine worship." This regular tolling became very important to people in early days as it was the only way they had of telling the time and beckoned them from wherever they were to worship.
Fun History
In medieval times, bells were steeped in superstition. This was probably because of their long association with religion. They were actually baptized and, once baptized, had the power to ward off evil spells and spirits. Bells were hung in doorways to protect visitors from the evil spirits which always wait around the door, awaiting the chance to slip inside. A visitor would ring the bell to drive the spirits away and then pass inside - which is the likely origin of the present day doorbell!
Handbells came to America from England in the 19th century, and it may have been thanks to P.T. Barnum, who engaged a group of English handbell ringers for an American tour, provided that they were willing to grow mustaches, wear colorful clothing, and allow themselves to be billed as "Swiss Bell Ringers."
Bells in Worship
After bells moved outside the church in Paulinus' time, handbells continued their development within the church. A cappella chanting (voices only) was replaced in popularity by more elaborate modes of liturgical accompaniment which included bells, stringed and wind instruments, and small organs.
Change ringing, as we know it today, emerged in England in the 17th century. To that era, we can trace the origins of the earliest ringing societies, such as the Lincoln Cathedral Guild, which claims to date to 1612 or to a Society in Bristol which was founded in 1620 and lasted as a ringing society until the late 19th century. The recreation began to flourish in earnest in the Restoration era and in 1668 a book was written which set down easy rules for ringing.
Throughout the years since, the underpinnings of change ringing have been pursued by mathematicians. Bells have been installed in towers around the world and many rings in the British Isles have been augmented to ten, twelve, fourteen, or even sixteen bells. And so we come to today where change ringing is a commonplace sound, particularly in England, often ensuing from a church tower before or after a service or wedding. 
The first true bell peal (a special type of change ringing), being made at St. Peter Mancroft in Norwich in 1715, consisted of 5,040 changes of Plain Bob Triples. If you don't know what a Plain Bob Triple is, you can view it below!
Today, over 4000 peals are rung each year.
There is something in the sound of bells which is beckoning and joyful, I am sure as much for the hearer as for the people pulling the ropes.
Bells are intrinsically linked with prayer and the worship of God. That is why they have been historically so important in the life of the English church. 
The psalmist calls us to praise the Lord, using not only our voices, but musical instruments as well, and the summoning of bells to worship across the English countryside is part of our commitment to the praise of God. That is the point of bells. Yes, they sing out joyful praises to God, but they are also calling people to come to where they will be reminded of the majesty of God and worship him in the splendor of his holiness.
Handbells at FPC
Join us this Sunday, June 4th as we dedicate our new handbells!
Our Carillon Handbell Choir can now expand to accommodate new members with the funds raised through last year's Give-A-Bell Program.
If you are interested in joining the Carillon Handbell Choir, we'd love to have you when we return from our summer break on Wednesday, August 16th! Handbells rehearse from 6:00-7:00pm on Wednesdays during the school year and childcare is provided.
For more information on Music Ministry please contact Alicia Taylor!