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Sanctuary Chimes

posted Dec 22, 2013, 1:55 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 22, 2013, 1:57 PM ]
As a substitute for large church tower bells, instrument manufacturers began marketing tubular chimes during the latter part of the 19th century. When our church was built in the 1930’s, a set of these were installed on the back wall of the sanctuary by the J. C. Deagan Company of Chicago, who also supplied the famous 3-note NBC chimes, which was the first ever audio trademark to be accepted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These chimes were removed from our sanctuary a few decades ago, though we’re not sure exactly when or why. And no one knows what happened to them.

Last spring, the parish staff spent our annual retreat at the St. Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House, also known as “Inisfada”. This Tudor Revival Style mansion had already been sold, and as one of the last retreats to be held there, the curator explained to us how many of the furnishings were being transferred to other Jesuit properties. For example, the entire Genevieve Chapel has been deconstructed and is awaiting transport to its new home at Fordham University. Noticing a set of similar chimes in the great front hall, Fr. Robert inquired where they were going. Since no Jesuit property had requested them, he was successful in procuring them for us, with the only cost being their installation and rewiring of the fragile old electricity!

This set was manufactured by the Rowland H. Mayland Company, established in 1866 right here in Brooklyn, who also supplied chimes for New York’s CBS Radio Orchestra. (You could say we’ve changed our network affiliation!)

Sanctuary chimes were quickly replaced with the less expensive altar bells, and may be rung according to the same guidelines. Traditionally, they are rung during the Gloria at Midnight Mass to celebrate their first use in the new Liturgical Year, since they are silenced during the season of Advent. It is also customary to bless them before they are placed into service, so they will be blessed during the prelude before Midnight Mass.

And if you’re at that Mass, now you can truly say, or even better, sing: I heard the bells on Christmas Day…