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42421Re: [liturgy-l] tolling the death bell

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  • The Rev'd Doug Morrison-Cleary, OSL
    Mar 2, 2012
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      On Fri, 2 Mar 2012 17:45:58 -0800 (PST)
      Frank Senn <fcsenn@...> wrote:

      > Where's John Burnett the bell expert when I need him?  Does anyone on
      > this list know if there is a tradition of tolling the death bell the
      > number of times equal to the number of years the deceased lived?  If
      > so, when is that done?
      > Frank C. Senn

      Frank, in 'Death and burial in medieval England: 1066-1550' by
      Christopher Daniell the bells are described as relating to social
      status where an half hour of ringing is appropriate for someone of high
      status. However, outside of the bells rung during processions which
      could call people to pray for the dead and scare away devils, its not
      clear exactly when during the funeral the bells are to be rung.

      However, in describing a death in a Cluniac community, Daniell says
      that after death, the community went to the Lady Chapel to sing Vespers
      for the dead followed by Matins, "followed by the collect Omnipotens
      sempiterne Deus. Bells were then rung, ..." the body was then prepared
      further and then brought into the church for the night watch. After the
      burial "[the] procession returned ... to the tolling of bells."

      I think John Burnett would suggest that the bells further connect
      heaven and earth at this time of passage. Almost an announcing to God
      that the person was dead as much as an announcing to the world around!
      Calling God to gather up the spirit of the departed at the same time as
      the world is called to pray.

      [As well as scaring away the devils!!!]

      Hope this helps.

      Doug Morrison-Cleary
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