For whom the bell tolls
Cities are full of sights and sounds. Brunswick certainly is! There’s the noise of traffic along busy Glenlyon Road on which the church stands; the conversations of passers by and those who gather outside the Mechanics Institute; the ting-ting of the tram on the Sydney Road; the sounds of laughter and music from ‘The Retreat’ pub across the road well in to the night. All of these the sounds of life!
In the midst of all of that each day the bell of Christ Church tolls, adding to the mix the sound that is a reminder of God and the invitation to worship him.
It’s a tradition that goes back to around 400 AD and in the days before it was common for people to have watches (or iphones!) to the local community that it was time to come for worship.
At Christ Church we have worship every day and the bell is rung before we begin. That’s normally just before 7 a.m. on most weekdays and on Sundays before the 8 and 10 a.m. services.
However, passers by Christ Church may have noticed recently the revival of a very beautiful and meaningful tradition that takes place at 6 p.m. (and sometimes if the vicar is at home at Noon)
It’s the ringing of the Angelus bell. The bell is rung three times three times, and then nine times. It’s called the Angelus prayer because of the words and prayers recited as the bell is rung. The first words are ‘The Angel…’, Angelus in Latin.
In monasteries and some cathedrals it is rung three times each day at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.. to be a specific reminder of the central teaching of the Christian faith, that is the INCARNATION which means ‘becoming flesh’. At the heart of the Christian religion is the belief that God ‘became flesh’, became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, which is why by the way, that for Christians the words and actions of Jesus are so important, the most important in human history.
The words and prayers that go with the Angelus bell take words for the Bible that tell the story of the Incarnation, and then add a prayer request to Mary to the Mother of Jesus to pray for us.
You could say that when the Angelus bell is rung, the Christmas story is tolled every day!
Designed to be prayed in community it can and is often recited by Christians when they are alone.
It goes like this: (The Bible passages that relate to it are in brackets)
The Angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit. Gospel of Luke Chapter 1:35
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Luke 1:28
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Luke 1:42
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord
Be it unto me according to thy word. Luke 1:38
And the Word was made flesh
And dwelt among us. Gospel of John 1:14
Pray for us O holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ
We beseech thee O Lord, pour thy Grace into our hearts, that as we have known the Incarnation of thy son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his Cross and Passion we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.