Four bells from a bellmaker in the Lusk region of Ukraine were recently shipped to Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church in Los Alamos. Photo by Father Theophan
By Father Theophan
Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church
Bells in churches have a thousand-year-old tradition, both east and west, announcing times, events and calling the faithful to worship. They are rung for those outside the church to bring the people in and remind them what is going on inside the church.
Eastern and Slavic church bell ringing developed out of the use of the sematron, a flat piece of wood or metal, either hand-held or hung from a frame, which was struck rhythmically with hammers. Thus, eastern bell ringing is rhythmic and percussive in nature, not tuneful. Bells began to replace sematra in the Slavic lands in the 1400s.
The pious tradition of Bells in eastern churches assert that bells are an aural icon of the voice of God. They are not tuned to make either major or minor chords but are cast each with an untuned voice, a layering of overtones and undertones. They call to mind the Hebrew trumpets at Mount Sinai in Exodus and foretell the trumpet sound that will raise the dead at the Last Judgment.
Saint Job, here in Los Alamos, received its first bells in June of 2017. An 18” bronze bell, weighing 125 lbs. and two smaller steel bells were donated by Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Freeland, Pennsylvania, which had recently closed. The bronze bell has a beautiful tone and is used regularly. According to its inscription it is nearly 125 years old.
Recently a bell maker was found to still be in operation in the Lusk region of Ukraine, and a special offering was collected to pay for the purchase and shipping of four bells here to Los Alamos. When the bells are installed a plaque will be commissioned and displayed in honor of the faithful’s generosity.
The new bells will be blessed by Father Theophan with Holy water, incense, and special prayers, on Sunday, Nov. 26 after the Divine Liturgy. The bells will ring a trezvon (triple peal) after their blessing around 11:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to come see, and now come and listen!