The Church Bells

The church bell tower and three of its five bells were a gift to the congregation by charter church members Severin and Louise Knutson. The three bells were installed in 1986 in the tower designed by architect Charles Tapley. They were rung for the first time on Christ the King Sunday, November 23, of that year. The two newest bells, the smallest and the largest, were given by an anonymous benefactor and were rung for the first time on Christ the King Sunday in 2005, which was the congregation’s sixtieth anniversary.

The largest bell weighs 1852 pounds and is 42 inches in diameter. It sounds an F#. The inscription is from a church bell in Luck, Wisconsin, which was a center of Danish Lutheran piety. It reads, “To the bath and to the table, to the prayers and to the word, I call every seeking soul.” This bell is known as the tolling bell and is rung at funerals, each toll representing a year in the life of the deceased. The bell is also tolled forty times daily during Lent.

The next-to-the-largest bell weighs 1,000 pounds and is 35 inches in diameter. It sounds an A when struck. The inscription on it reads, “Veni, Creator Spiritus, Mentes Tuorum Visita” (Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire).

The middle-sized bell weighs 484 pounds and is about 28 inches in diameter. It sounds a C#. Inscribed on it are these words from the hymn, “Built on a Rock.” “Through all the passing years, O Lord, grant that, when church bells are ringing, many may come to hear God’s word.”

The next bell weighs 290 pounds and is about 24 inches in diameter. It sounds an E when struck. On it is the inscription “Christus Rex Venit in Pace” (Christ the King Comes in Peace). It is the prayer bell and is struck seven times during the Lord’s Prayer for the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, inviting the community to join in prayer.

The smallest bell weighs 220 pounds, is 21½ inches in diameter, and sounds an F#. The inscription, Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men, is taken directly from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” (1863).

The bells are rung for all services of worship of our congregation except on Good Friday when they are silent. Normally three bells are pealed a few minutes before the hour of worship to call the church together. At the conclusion of the service they are pealed again to send the church into the world. On workdays the bells are rung at 8:00 AM., noon, and 5:00 PM. For special services, such as weddings and funerals, the ringing of the bells varies to suit the occasion.