by Moses W. Mann.[Read before the Medford Historical Society, April 20, 1914.] THE bells of a town or city possess an interest to many youths, not outgrown in later years. Whether the bells call to school or factory, college hall or church, whether the alarm of danger, wedding chimes or the solemn knell for the dead, they bring a message, reminding of duty or business, pleasure or sorrow. One of the pleasantest recollections of the town where my boyhood was spent is that of the ringing of the three church bells, morning, afternoon and evening on the Sabbath, and of the noon and curfew bells on week-days. I doubt not there are some in Medford that share the same experience. With the thought of making record of those of Medford, I prepared a series of articles thereon some thirteen years since, which were published in the Medford Mercury, followed in later years by others, in all eleven or twelve. The earliest record we have of any meeting-house bell in Medford is in 1740, when an effort was made to purchase ‘a bell that Mr. Dolbear had for sale.’ Mr. Dolbear was a Boston merchant at Dock square. Nothing seems to have come of this, however. Historian Brooks mentions the fact that the town had a stock of bricks, but as these were not sold the bell was not bought. He records that ‘some liberal gentlemen provided a bell’ in 1744. The ringer was paid five pounds for a year's service. This bell was on the second meeting-house beside Marrabel's brook. The bell was placed in a turret or [p. 50] cupola that surmounted the pyramidal roof, and the bellrope hung in the middle of the house in the alley, just as it does today in the old Hingham meeting-house, built in 1681. Medford had then been settled one hundred and fourteen years, and without doubt this first Medford bell was brought over sea, and it may have been the one suggested four years before. Of its founder, weight and tone we know nothing. It was probably a small bell, pitched high in the musical scale, weighing but a few hundred pounds, and hung in a cumbrous wooden frame. Its sharp, clear tones were heard up and down the Mystic valley, and doubtless its warning peals rang out after Revere galloped by, one hundred and thirty-nine years ago yesterday morning, on his way to Menotomy and Lexington. But ere this the third meeting-house had been built on another spot, and the bell hung in its towering steeple. The eighteenth century was old, its last year young (but thirteen days), when Medford people assembled for their tribute of respect to Washington, each wearing the tokens of mourning. His companion-in-arms, Gen. John Brooks, pronounced the eulogy in the black-draped meeting-house, and as the people dispersed, the bell was tolled until the sun went down. Its echoes are more than a century old, but we of today remember the sorrowful tones of the Medford bells at the passing of President McKinley. Fifty-eight years the first Medford bell was in service, and on May 10, 1802, the town voted ‘to have a new bell, and that the old one be given in part pay.’ The contract for its casting was given to Paul Revere and Sons, whose bill of $552.75 was allowed on November 1 of that year. Benjamin Reed was paid $2.50 for ‘bringing up the bell,’ and Fitch Hall, Joseph Hall and B. Farrington were paid sums aggregating $27.74 for placing it in position. Isaac Floyd was paid $15.83 for six months ringing. On April 1, 1805, the town voted not to pay for ringing the bell every day. [p. 51] In March meeting, 1803, the selectmen were directed to sell the old bell when they could obtain a reasonable price, and this is the last information we have of the first Medford bell. Evidently Medford did not pay cash in those days, as on January 2, 1804, the selectmen gave an order to Revere and Sons for $31.74 interest on their bill for the bell. In 1810 this second Medford bell had an associate in public service in the steeple of the third meeting-house. Hon. Peter C. Brooks presented the town a tower clock. This was accepted by the selectmen, who communicated to him the thanks of the town, entering the same on the records. Twenty-nine years the clock measured the passing hours and the bell announced them, until on May 12, 1839, Medford people, or rather the Unitarian portion, assembled for the last time in the old third meeting-house. For six months the Revere bell remained silent and covered on the ‘green,’ while the new house of the Unitarian (First Parish) was being built. The clock received some extensive repairs, and both clock and bell were placed in the storied steeple of the new house of worship at its completion. There they remained until their destruction by fire on Sunday, January 15, 1893. I fancy that attendants at the First Parish Church will listen with surprise to the following—
Fragments of the metal were incorporated in the bell, cast by Henry N. Hooper & Co., hung in the tower of the new edifice built in 1894especially as said tower does not, and never has, contained a bell. Moreover, Hooper & Co., the successors of Revere, were succeeded by others prior to 1874. Equally fallacious is this inscription, said to have been upon the bell:
Presented to the town of Medford, Mass., by Peter Chardon Brooks as a slight token of the esteem he holds for the people among whom he was born and bred.As a matter of fact, Mr. Brooks was born in North Yarmouth, Me. [p. 52] I have quoted the above from Revere Bells, by Dr. Arthur H. Nichols of Boston. Dr. Nichols was grossly misinformed in the matter by a Medford man, and only learned of the error after his book had found a place in the library of the Medford Historical Society. He at once conceded the accuracy of the Medford records of selectmen and town treasurer as authority, instead of the letter received by him, which he has on file (the writer of which has passed on). The long pastorate of Dr. David Osgood ended in 1822. Respect and love for their pastor had held the varying elements together for some years, though the parting of their ways was near. The Methodist Episcopalians had begun to hold public worship before the separation in the First Parish took place. Soon a new house of worship was erected by the Trinitarian or Second Congregational Church for its use. Six years later (1830) twenty-two persons contributed the sum of $640, ‘feeling that the cause of religion would be promoted by the placing of a bell in the tower.’ Thatcher Magoun and John Bishop gave $200 each, the rest was in sums of from $5 to $25, doubtless in equal proportion to the means of the donors. This bell was also cast by Revere (and was his 346th) and weighed 1,529 lbs. It cost $604.93, and the balance of $35.07 was turned into the treasury of the Second Parish, ‘on condition that the subscription paper be recorded in the society's book of records.’ This was done, and thanks given the donors. This was the third Medford bell. The fourth bell to come to Medford was in the late '30s, and placed on a schoolhouse on Park street. This was a small one, its sound welcome to the studious, but a terror to the tardy ones. It was rung by the pupils, and Mr. Hooper recalls his juvenile experience at the bell-rope, with the only school bell the town of Medford ever bought. Next came two other bells, at about the same time, about which we may not be exact. One was the Old Bughorn. [p. 53] Of the significance of such a title I have failed to learn, but such was the name given to the ship-yard bell that, placed on the building of James O. Curtis, was rung at the hours of labor's commencing and close, in the days when times were busy along the Mystic river. When the ship-building business declined, the bell was disused, and for years remained silent. But, in 1877, the town built a schoolhouse near Malden line, which was called the Curtis school, and Mr. Curtis donated to it the shipyard bell. It hangs in an iron yoke, with a solid wheel of wood for the bell-rope. The tongue of this bell is somewhat peculiar, in that it swings in all directions. This is a small bell, 14 inches high and 19 inches diameter. An ornamental design encircles its crown, and above it is the inscription, ‘Cast by G. L. Hanks, Cincinnati, Ohio.’ No mark of weight, tone, or date is discernible upon it, and its weight is probably less than 200 lbs. At present it is, and for many years it has been, the only school bell in Medford. The other bell referred to was the depot bell. Installed, at the opening of the Medford Branch railroad, at first on a little platform at the end of the roof-ridge, it was later housed in a cupola. The old-time style of ringing was similar to that of church bells—ten or fifteen minutes before the departure of trains, the first bell; the second bell was for about three minutes, in regular strokes, ending at the scheduled time. This ringing was a convenience to the regular patrons of the road, but there were always late arrivals, and sometimes some—too late. After some forty years of service this bell became cracked and was removed to the railroad ‘graveyard,’ and none other ever replaced it. The year 1854 saw the opening of Tufts College. Its first building was Ballou Hall, and upon its roof was placed the college bell, cast by G. H. Holbrook at East Medway, Mass., in 1857. The father of this foundry man learned his trade of Paul Revere. If this old bell could talk it might tell many strange stories of the pranks of [p. 54] the young collegians, or perhaps something of its own history. Whether purchased by the college corporation, or the gift of some friend, may ever remain unknown. That it had a message to the students is evidenced by these words, from Brown and the Blue.—
“Arouse to your waiting task, too longIn the 1850s there were many fires, incendiary or otherwise, in Medford, and the two church bells were in frequent service to give alarm. Whether the violent ringing cracked the Second Parish bell, no one knows. Diligent inquiry of the men of that time now living, fails to reveal why, on July 6, 1860, the Second Parish paid $463.66 for a bell, as appears in the account book of the treasurer. As the records of the parish are utterly silent in relation to it, the only reasonable conclusion we may arrive at is this, that after thirty years of service, the bell having been, in addition to its service in ‘the cause of religion,’ used for the daily ringing at sunrise, noon and sunset, and for many fires, had become damaged and was recast, or exchanged for another. But, two months and three days later, this new bell became itself a prey to the devouring element, the work of an incendiary. Does any one present remember that October day in 1860, when six white horses came into town, hauling a dray, on which was mounted a bell and several men to ring it? People noticed its similarity of tone to the one on the burned church. It was a Presidential year and the occasion was a rally of the Constitutional Union Party. As darkness drew on the Everett Guards turned out in torch-light parade, with a band of music, and marched [p. 55] through the streets with the bell ringing. Their campaign cry was, ‘All up! All up!’ and because their candidates were John Bell and Edward Everett, this bell found place in demonstrations of the party in various towns in the Commonwealth. The men on the dray would swing the bell and shout at its Ding-dong, ‘And Everett.’ This bell was cast by Hooper & Co. in Boston, and bore this inscription, ‘Massachusetts for the Union, the Constitution and the enforcement of the laws,’ (fugitive slave law and all), and on the opposite side the words, ‘Bell & Everett, 1860.’ In one of those demonstrations was a transparency that said John is the Bell,
Forgot,” to one came the message strong;
To another ‘Today still beckons to fame,’
His listening neighbor heard Duty's name
And went at the work; with eyes on the ground
The plodder knew one day more in his round;
But the brow of his fellow grew bright at the voice,
The chiming called him to toil of his choice.
With mystical meaning the loud bell rang.
Will toll the knell,
Of all the hopes that Abe built.
A few days later the country knew that ‘Honest Old Abe,’ the rail-splitter, was elected President, and the next year found John Bell among the enemies of the Union. The campaign over, the State Committee of the Union Party had the bell for sale, and it was purchased (with their insurance money) by the Trinitarian Parish, and placed in the tower of its new church on High street. The words, Bell and Everett, were chipped from it, otherwise the inscription remains. After the union of that society with the Mystic Church and the remodelling of the latter's house of worship, the bell and clock were moved thereto and still remain in service. In June, 1873, the First Methodist Episcopal Church dedicated its new edifice. In the tower was placed a bell, cast by Hooper & Co., that weighed 1,798 lbs., receiving the impact of 40 lbs. of iron in its tongue, and was of the tone of F natural. There were no historical or sentimental associations connected with it. It was bought and paid for at the market price, in an ordinary business way. On the evening of August 19, 1905, there were three incendiary fires, and this church, with all its [p. 56] contents, was destroyed. After the building by the society of its new church on Otis street, a smaller bell from the foundry of Meneely's Sons of Troy, N. Y., was placed in its tower and is now in service. In 1888 the Union Congregational Church at South Medford had been erected. For twenty years the sharp, pertinent tones of the race-track bell had been heard by the crowds who gathered at Mystic Park. Since ‘88 this church bell has been true to the legend inscribed on it, ‘I call and I warn.’ It weighs 500 lbs., and it cost about $200. It was cast by the Meneelys, and was provided by the efforts, and was a gift in trust, of Prof. H. B. Doland and others. Upon the completion of the new and present church building this bell was placed in its tower. In 1884 the West Medford Congregational Church, by persistent effort, succeeded in paying a burdensome debt, and several gentlemen, not of the church, were moved thereby to assist in the procuring of a bell therefor. It came from the Blake foundry in Boston and weighed 2,025 lbs. Instead of the society's corporate name, the inscription was ‘Harvard Avenue Church, West Medford, Edward C. Hood, Pastor, 1884. Hitherto the Lord hath helped us.’ On March 4, 1903, the church was destroyed by fire and the bell broken by its fall. To the city of Troy, N. Y., it was sent to the hotter fires of the bell foundry. After eighteen months absence it came back and was placed in the tower of the new house of worship. On one side, near the crown, is the name—
Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N. Y., 1904.and on the opposite (eastward)—
‘We went through fire and through water, but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.’ ‘Oh, come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before Jehovah, our Maker.’—Psalms 66: 2; 95: 6. A. R. V.Its weight is 2,200 lbs., and its first Sabbath service was in calling the people to the dedication of the new [p. 57] church. The hours of the tower clock, the city's property, are also struck on this bell. Over a century ago the New England Glass Works were established in East Cambridge. After fifty years the business had so increased as to require extensive buildings and a small army of workmen. Clocks and watches were not as numerous or as cheap then as now. For the convenience of its employees, the corporation placed on its central building, in 1854, a bell weighing 505 lbs. This was also from the Hooper foundry. Its 15-lb. tongue sent out the note of C, calling to daily toil about the glowing furnaces for years, until at last the closing out of the business left it with occupation gone. For ten years or more it hung unused and silent, till 1899. Then some one found it could be purchased for $20, and that $25 more would place it in the belfry of the Hillside Universalist Church. So, without burdensome effort, the amount was raised by subscription, and it became a Medford bell. With an honorable record behind it at the age of forty-five, it entered the service of the church, and, though with this late beginning, it is the oldest church bell in the city.
Swell, swell, ye waters, swell,On May 13, 1906, a unique service was held in the room over the carriage porch of the First Baptist Church. The Pastor read a psalm, each of the deacons offered a prayer, then the clergyman followed in one of greater length, and the roomful of people sang ‘All hail the power of Jesus' name.’ At the appointed time an experienced ringer (Mr. Peak) carefully tilted or ‘set’ the bell, and the rope was placed in the hands of Miss Alice [p. 58] Curtis by her father, with the injunction to ‘pull,’ which she did. Slowly at first, but with gathering momentum, the 2,040-lb. bell swung around, and out on the breezy morning air came its sonorous vibrations in the key of E. Mr. Curtis grasped the rope, gave a few vigorous pulls, and resigned it to the ringer to finish the duty of the time. The brief service in the tower was a fitting prelude to the morning worship and dedication of the ‘Curtis Memorial Bell,’ which came from Meneely's foundry and bears the inscription Presented to the
Rang deep and strong the Baptist bell,
While faith in God alone can save,
Man must be plunged beneath the wave,
To show the world enduring faith
In what the Holy Scripture saith;
Swell, swell, ye waters, swell,
Rang deep and strong the Baptist bell.
First Baptist Church, Medford,
by Elisha B. Curtis, 1906
In memory of
His Father, Asa F. Curtis,
His Mother, Achsah L. Curtis,
His Sister, Mary Curtis Breed, His Wife, Lucia Leadbetter Curtis.
The destruction of the Methodist bell in the preceding year and rebuilding farther away by that society, with a different hour of service in the Mystic Church, suggested the need of a bell in the Baptist tower, and after some consideration of the matter, Mr. Curtis felt, ‘It's up to me to provide the bell.’ It is safe to say that no bell ever placed on a Medford meeting-house was ever accorded such a reception, both adverse and kindly, as was this. After a time the city clock was arranged to strike each hour on this memorial bell. The city's bells are mainly those of the fire-alarm service. The one longest in use is that hanging in the graceful tower of the brick fire station on Salem, near Park street. It was purchased in 1856 (to replace the school bell destroyed by fire), but placed instead on the engine house of Washington (No. 3) Engine. Hooper & Co. furnished it at a cost of $238.42, and for sixteen years it was Medford's only fire-alarm bell. When the new house was built the bell was divested of its hangings [p. 59] and suspended from a beam in the tower, from which it sends out its warning tones simultaneously with all the others. When this bell was first hung, the first steam fire engine had just been built and was looked upon with little favor by the volunteer firemen of those days. The next fire bell to come was the one at West Medford. This weighed 515 lbs., and was mounted on a temporary framework beside the livery stable of D. K. Richardson near Whitmore brook. At the completion of the fire station on Canal street it was placed in its cupola. Complaint was soon made by firemen who didn't hear its ringing, and the engineers procured a larger bell of 900 lbs., and had the cupola roof raised higher to take it in. William Blake, successor of Hooper & Co., took the first in exchange therefor, and the town paid a small charge for damage to its wheel. When installed it was hung in the usual way for ringing, but when removed a year since to the new station on Harvard avenue, was suspended from a steel beam in the cupola of the building. The newest bells are those on the stations on Spring and Medford streets, these weighing 1,800 and 2,000 lbs. respectively. The former (at Glenwood) was purchased in 1890 at a total cost for bell and striker of $833.43. The latter bell cost $385.23, with $450 for the striking apparatus and setting the same. Both these bells hang suspended by the crown, and though supplied with the usual tongue, are struck by a hammer on the outer surface of the rim by electric action. Unlike all others, they bear the trade-mark of the foundry (a miniature bell on which is the name Hooper) and over which is a wavy ribbon with the words, Blake Bell Co. The bell in the Central station is the heaviest in the service (and in the city as well), weighs 2,485 lbs., of the key of D sharp, and was purchased by the Town of Medford, on the recommendation of the engineers, as a measure of economy. Despite the condition upon which the town supplied the tower clock, in 1870, to the Second Parish Church on High street, which was, that the free use of [p. 60] the bell thereon should be granted for public ringing, the town had paid for its use, after its removal to its present location, more than enough to buy a bell. The bell at South Medford has this inscription, ‘City of Medford Fire Department, Arthur C. Symmes, Chief Engineer, 1894,’ but the Central bell has none to denote municipal ownership, but around the crown, ‘Cast by William Blake & Co., formerly H. N. Hooper & Co., Boston, Mass., A. D. 1891.’ Within a few years it has been suspended as are the others, higher in the tower, but at first was mounted in the usual way, and until the custom was discontinued, was rung at stated hours daily, and also as the curfew bell. All the city bells above enumerated are struck by the electric-alarm system (installed in 1880), as is also the steam gong or whistle upon the Schenk-Adams factory at the western border of the city and within a few feet of the Somerville appendix. To the writer five blows followed by one, and to others, numbers contiguous, come the sound of these fire bells with a thrill, lest the destroying element threaten his own or a neighbor's dwelling. More pleasant is their sound to the school children on a stormy day, while the test strokes at noon and evening arouse no fears. At Wellington, upon Bethany Church, is a small bell, placed there at the city's expense for a no-school signal. It is not connected with the fire-alarm system, orders for its ringing being given by telephone. In return for its housing, the church society has the use of it on Sabbath days. In the cupola of the stable at the superintendent's residence, Oak Grove Cemetery, hangs a small bell for a call bell. It was purchased from a junk dealer in Boston, who knew nothing of its history, but who said it was perhaps a ship's bell. Possibly it may have been one of Butler's bells, but this is only a surmise. At the capture of New Orleans, there were found a lot of bells of various sizes that had come from churches, schools, plantations, [p. 61] and wherever a bell could be had. They were all donated to the lost cause by a sacrificing people, to be cast into Confederate cannon, but had not reached the foundry fires. These bells were sent north by General Butler and sold, and various town and church committees secured bargains thereby. For several years one interested made inquiry and search therefor, and after a long time succeeded in locating a few of ‘Butler's bells.’ Another bell of municipal ownership is the ‘Town of Medford Bell.’ This hangs in the belfry of Grace Church, and by the appropriation1 of $600, by vote in town meeting. Question was raised at the time as to whether or not the town could legally do so, and the legal opinion gotten was, that it would be legal if the bell could be used for fire-alarm or other public service authorized by the town authorities. Of this bell more definite information will appear elsewhere. As there entered into the possibility of purchase of a first Medford bell the item of bricks, it is fitting to mention the bell upon the boarding-house of the New England Brick Company at Glenwood. At various intervals in the brick-making season it used to wake the workmen and call them to their meals, and mark the hours of working time. It is the only existing Medford bell that the writer has not seen and examined at close range. It has been strenuous work, in some cases, to climb the church steeples and fire towers, but facts absolute and correct are only to be had by painstaking search. Medford may have had, in the old days, a town-crier. If so, he must have carried a bell—small, of course, and possibly larger than those the schoolma'ams used to shake at the open window, but we have found no trace of one. Mention has already been made of the college bell. What disposition was made of it we know not, but on June 11, 1908, the class of ‘98 presented the college with a new bell, placing it in the lofty stone tower of Goddard [p. 62] Chapel. It can be heard far and near because of its high elevation, and when its long continued ringing is heard, be sure that in some athletic contest the Tufts boys have won. At its installation elaborate services of dedication were held in the chapel. The college magazine2 says of it—
Professor Lewis grasped the dramatic possibilities of a dedicatory service in which the bell itself should play a speaking part.The program began with an invocation, and the class song was sung by Frank Lincoln Pierce, who sang it on the ‘98 Class Day. The president of the class, John Albert Cousins, next presented the bell, which was accepted by President Hamilton. The ode was by Clara Ransom of ‘98, for Tufts was then co-educational. Passages from Schiller's ‘Lay of the Bell’ were next sung, and at the words, ‘She is moving, sways, sways,’ the first stroke of the bell was given by the college president. Then followed the
Act of Dedication—To Prayer, to Mourning, to Work, to Jubilation, and as the Voice of Alma Materby the president. At each pronouncement there was response by the choir and bell. During all the exercises the audience had been seated. It now arose and joined in singing a stanza of the college song, pausing before the final sentence, when the pealing of the bell was heard. We were somewhat startled a few months ago on reading in the morning paper that this bell had fallen ‘to the stone floor of the chapel,’ owing to the vigorous ringing of the Jackson College girls, in jubilation about Tufts' victory over Bowdoin in the foot-ball game. But like other newspaper reports, a slight accident was much overdrawn. The girls had two strings to their bow, i.e., the bell rope and the cord of the tolling hammer, and the two do not work properly together. The composition of this bell is seventy-eight per cent. Lake Superior copper and twenty-two per cent. imported [p. 63] tin. It weighs 1,001 lbs., is 116 inches in circumference at the sound bow, and its medium tone is A. The inscription cast upon the bell is— Tufts College
given in June, 1908
by the class of 1898 Pax-et-Lux
The dedication, in which over thirty persons took part, is commemorated by a bronze tablet set in the outer doorway of the chapel tower. All the other bells we have mentioned were, and are, of a similar composition of copper and tin, known as bell metal, which has an intrinsic value, and a bell of such metal, if cracked or broken, can be recast. The latest Medford bell, rung for the first time on Easter Sunday (this year), is in the tower of the Hillside People's Church (Methodist Episcopal). It is from the foundry of the Cincinnati Bell Company (Blymyer & Co.), and weighs 550 lbs. Of what it is made, or the percentage of its component metals we are unaware. We climbed into the belfry on Easter morning to examine it, and listened as it was rung by the sexton. Its tone is unlike any others in the city, and it is probably what is commonly called a ‘steel bell,’ but unlike those we have heard elsewhere, this has a pleasing tone. It is a gift to the church by the children of the Junior League, who held, on last Wednesday evening, a dedication service. Some one, a few years since (and not far away) said ‘A bell is a relic of a barbaric age.’ Be that as it may, bells have been used in ‘the cause of religion’ ever since they were placed in the hem of the robe of Aaron, the first Jewish high priest. The tinkling of those little golden bells gave to the people assurance that the high priest, alone in the presence of Jehovah, still lived and moved, and that the divine favor was still theirs. The skill of the artisan has been employed in all lands, and in some the results have been most gratifying. In old England, in the great cathedral churches, were peals [p. 64] and chimes of bells, and the ringing of them became an art. After the settlement of New England the bell on the meeting-house became a necessity, though preceded by the drum-beat, or blast upon a conch shell. The first chime, or ‘ring of bells,’ was that on old Christ Church in Boston, cast by Rudhall of Gloucester, England, and still in use. Whatever I have said, or may say, on the subject of bells (Medford's or others) is on the historical line, and not from any musical knowledge. I have purposely delayed mentioning the excellent chime of nine bells of Grace Church until now. In 1873 municipal appropriation, parish work, individual or memorial liberality, provided for its expense, which was $2,700. These nine bells have an aggregate weight of 5,324 lbs. and are attuned to the key of G, that of the largest, or tenor bell. Each bears the inscription ‘Grace Church, Medford, A. D. 1873,’ and all were cast by William Blake & Co. A visit to the belfry reveals an oaken frame some eight feet square and four feet high. Within this frame, suspended at their crowns, are eight of the bells, while upon its top is mounted, in the usual manner for ringing, the ‘town,’ or largest bell. In addition to that before mentioned, each bell has cast upon it its name and an appropriate inscription, scriptural or otherwise, as follows:—
No. 1. Tenor, 1,383 pounds. G. town of Medford bell. ‘Except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain.’ Psalms CXVII, 7. No. 2. 988 pounds. A. rector's bell. ‘Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained.’ St. John XX, 23. No. 3. 725 pounds. B. Marriage bell. Presented by Dudley C. Hall. ‘What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.’ St. Mark x, 9. [p. 65] No. 4. 637 pounds. C. Holy communion bell. ‘He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.’ St. John VI, 5-6. No. 5. 425 pounds. D. Holy Baptism bell. ‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’ Galatians III, 27. Presented by Mrs. Dudley Hall. ‘Peace to the past, joy to the present, welcome to the future.’ No. 6. 371 pounds. E. children's bell. ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.’ St. Mark x, 14. No. 7. 296 pounds. F. Burial bell. Presented by Mrs. Gorham Brooks and family. ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.’ Revelation XIV, 13. No. 8. 217 pounds. F sharp. Christmas bell. In Memoriam. Presented by Joseph K. Manning. ‘Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ St. Luke II, 14. No. 9. 192 pounds. G. Easter bell. In Memoriam. Presented by the children of Margaret B. Buss. ‘Those who sleep in Jesus shall God bring with him.’ I Thessalonians IV, 14.Just beneath the belfry is the ringing chamber, containing the frame and ropes by which the bells are rung, or rather chimed, the distinction being in the manner of operation. In the great cathedral churches of England and the continent, with their lofty towers and heavy bells, bell ringing was (and still is) an art requiring much practice and no little skill, as well as strength. There the services of a ringer for each bell are required, and the finest results obtained, as the overtones of the bells from lofty heights are thrown out more fully into the air. It will [p. 66] be readily seen that with a ringer to each bell of a chime of twelve or sixteen, the service became that of an organized and drilled company, with reserves to depend upon. By the way the Grace Church bells are hung and chimed one person, with the music score before him, performs the work. Two upright posts upon the floor, and two crossbars between them, through which the ropes are strung, an attachment for maintaining the proper tensions, together with angle cranks, complete the simple apparatus. With a firm grasp and a quick horizontal pull upon the proper ropes (attached to the bell tongues) the player renders the various airs of his repertory. Excellent as is this chime, and beautiful as is the architectural design of Grace Church, it is to be regretted that these bells are so near the ground, and below the steep roof of the edifice. Were they in a campanile, like that of Goddard Chapel, at Tufts College (even though not on a hill), their tones might, like the
bells of Shandonand be more plainly heard, and to a greater distance, than they are. The knells for the dead are tolled on thetenor bell by a muffled hammer, upon the approach of a funeral cortege, otherwise the full chime is used, as the varied music demands. It is said that their first use was on a wedding occasion. The names of the various players are to me unknown, save that on the occasion of my visit of inspection Mr. Clarence Bearse was thus serving. During their forty years of use the work must have been performed by several others whose service deserves recognition. In all there have been thirty-six Medford bells, of which number twenty-seven are now in service. The ancient custom of tolling the bell to announce a death in the town (a different number of strokes for a man, woman or child, followed by the number of their [p. 67] years) has long since ceased. Rarely is any bell tolled as the dead are borne to the silent city. The daily ringing at seven, twelve, one and six o'clock has passed away, but it would be well to re-establish the curfew bell at nine as of old. The fire alarm is more efficient than the old way, and we question whether the bell ropes left exposed outside the meeting-house doors would be left undisturbed by the youth of today as of old. One hundred and seventy years have the Medford bells been ringing. The quiet town of 1744 has grown to the city beautiful of 1914. Instead of the one meetinghouse by the brook and the little schoolhouse near by, are the many and expensive ones, the latter daily thronged with the children of today. Well would it be if on every schoolhouse there was a bell, and rung as of old. Well if in every church tower, in the various sections of the city, there were bells of such size and tone that in sweet harmony the old-time Sabbath custom might be resumed. But may such Medford bells as there are, whether they chime in ivymantled tower, or elsewhere singly,
Sound so grand on
The pleasant waters of the river—Mystic,
Ring out their cheerful, earnest chime
And bid each gathering throng
In hallowed walls keep holy time,
With heartfelt praise and song.
Ring out and let their joyful peal
Resound afar and near,
Let old and young from hill and vale
Devoutly worship here.
Ring out ye bells with joyful tale
Far over lake and lea,
Make glad our lovely native vale
As it was wont to be.