The chimes are ringing once again at Central Christian Church. And how sweet the sound!
For more than five centuries, the carillon ringing from a bell tower has been a voice for the hopes, aspirations and joys of mankind.
Carillons (a set of stationary bells hung in a tower and sounded by manual or pedal action, or by machinery) evolved in the lowlands of Holland, Belgium and northern France.
Having impressive sounding carillons in the town’s churches was a status symbol. The town carillonneur played on market days and holidays. It was said that good bells and good schools were the sign of a well-run city.
In 1935, George Schulmerich invented the electronic carillon. He discovered that tiny rods of cast bronze struck with miniature hammers produced pure bell tones and that these sounds could be amplified electronically resulting in a rich, sonorous tone. He called his invention carillonic bells.
Soon after this discovery, Schulmerich electronic carillons were being installed by churches and communities across the country, implementing the rich tone of the finest cast bronze bells at a fraction of the cost.
Central Christian Church is the oldest continuously operating Protestant church in the city of Dallas, founded in 1863, but the building at its current location at 4711 Westside Drive was erected in 1953, during the popularity of the installation of the Schulmerich carillon.
A Schulmerich electronic carillon was installed when the Westside Drive church was built. Though the original carillon has long since stopped working, the console that housed the rods and hammers is still in the church today.
In the 1980s, Central member Martha McClain donated money to have the chimes replaced, but those too stopped ringing about a decade ago.
This summer, the chimes were again replaced. This time, the carillon is an even more modernized version. It is a computer and an amplifier. But the result is the same — a voice for the hopes, aspirations and joys of mankind.
The chimes ring on the hour and they play a hymn at noon and at 6 in the evening. The current song being played is “Amazing Grace.” Neighbors have already called the church office to declare how great it is to once again hear the chimes.
If you would like to hear the chimes, visit the church grounds (there are picnic tables for sitting), stop by the dog park out back (there are benches and shade trees) or sit a spell in the prayer garden. Or, join Central for Sunday worship at 11 a.m. All are welcome.