by Faithful Friar
One very nice feature of learning and taking an active part in the art and exercise of change-ringing is that you are going to become a host to visitors. In this it is not unlike the Benedictine life here in the Community of Jesus. Our founders Mother Cay and Mother Judy exemplified this practice, and in his rule St. Benedict speaks at length about welcoming guests with due hospitality. Monastic communities emphasize this charism as a means of living out the Gospel. In a similar fashion, change-ringing towers and the bands of ringers in them should expect travelers who happen to be ringers to show up on your doorstep. There are guidelines and protocols to govern how it should happen, but the first principle is to accept that it will and to welcome it.
This weekend we have the joy and privilege of having an entire band of 10 ringers coming to attempt a full peal in the tower at the Church of the Transfiguration. This means they will ring a composition or arrangement of a particular known method (pattern of movement, exactly how the bells should weave in and out of each other). Each ringer must know the pattern by heart, and must also know how the pattern varies when the conductor makes a call. The calls serve to swap specific bells over onto a different track and thus extend the pattern, to avoid any repetition which is not allowed. The conductor must memorize many dozens of these calls and know exactly when to make them. If they aren’t given in the correct sequence or ringers don’t execute them properly, then it will either it go off the rails or it doesn’t come out properly at the end and the peal is “lost.” So it takes tremendous concentration and fortitude—continuous ringing/ counting for well over 3 hours. But in the process one can appreciate such concerted efforts and one can hear the marvelous sounds of bells!