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Every time a bell rings an Angel gets his wings

In villages all over the world bells mark time.  They mark the hours, often the half hours and even the quarter hours through the day and sometimes throughout the night.  They call to prayer, they toll for the dead, they ring out joyously the news that two people are wed.  They sound their eccastic pleasure on Christmas morning and in France they are silent from Good Friday til they sound sonorously, building slowly, softly, increasingly exuberantly on Easter Sunday. After they have flown to Rome to be blessed and have dropped their goodies for the worthy on their flight home, of course.   Here in my village we have eight-til-late bells tolling out the hours and giving a single bong for the half hour.  I rather think I know their secret – shhh, don’t tell but … they are mechanised.  However a human person, possibly the Priest himself rings the bells for Mass.  He’s a dashing figure who wears his Catholic robes with a panache that the kings of couture would applaud on the catwalk.  He is also quite clearly tone deaf and devoid of any rhythmn.  A far cry from the rehearsed peels of my village church in England.  That was melodious this is frankly cacophonous.

Church bells to me are the soundtrack of ordinary life.  They mark out that rhythm that man has lived to for centuries.  It matters not whether you are part of the Church. It matters not, indeed whether you have any religious faith.  The bells provide the backdrop to life itself.

My birthday is at the end of September.  My youngest daughter came to stay for a week and wanted to take me for lunch.  Her treat.  This is a HUGE deal when the daughter in question is a student.  We drove to Brioude.  Its a town I have wanted to explore for a long while, just over the border in the Haute Loire (also part of the Auvergne Region).  We had very delicious lunch and then walked in the rather insistent mizzle that marked my birthday out from the WHOLE of the rest of the sunshiney month.  We heard the bells of the Basillica and we knew instantly from their sober tone that they were marking a funeral.  No-one needed to tell us to be quiet as we passed the building, the bells did it for us.  And somehow, those bells wrapped us for a moment in the huddled sadness of the group waiting to greet their loss for the last time.  Brought us to a halt, illicited respect.  Yes, bells are the soundtrack to ordinary life and that soundtrack is played in simple notes that mortals simply recognise and divine.

These bells are in Sainte-Anastasie in the Cezallier Cantallien.  They sit in a fine clocher-peigne which for non French speakers translates as a ‘bell comb’.  It describes perfectly the open structure that prettily suspends the bells rather using than a tower to house them.

DSCF4013PS:  Zuzu, George Bailey’s ‘little ginger snap’ is quoted in the title … at the end of the magic that is Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ squeezed tight by her daddy whose Guardian Angel (second class), Clarence has literally been his salvation she tells him this fact.   Her teacher told her so ….

Screenshot 2015-10-17 11.27.45

This piece is written in response to The Daily Press weekly photo challenge (Extra)Ordinary – all other entries are here

36 Comments Post a comment
  1. Arby #

    I absolutely love the words, and the photo, so stunning and clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 16, 2015
    • Thank you Arby …. I’m not a photographer but sometimes it just works!

      Like

      October 17, 2015
  2. Wow what a wonderful post! I love the different bells and the meaning and when they are ringing! I never thought about it! How nice to have your youngest take you to lunch! Very lovely picture and post!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 16, 2015
    • She insisted I had dessert and then took me to the patisserie and bought dainty pastries for tea …. So precious, Lynz I’m delighted you enjoyed the post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      October 17, 2015
      • I loved it and could hear the ringing. we live near a University and the bells ring randomly and it is lovely!

        Like

        October 17, 2015
  3. Lovely post. We don’t have bells where I live in the country, so that isn’t an experience I am familiar with, apart from films.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 16, 2015
    • We tend to want to live a more rural life and our house search is all about isolation but I must admit, the sound of bells is something I will miss. Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      October 17, 2015
  4. As far as I recall, English church bells are mounted to swing in a circle…so the sound is lifted up…while all the French church bells that I have seen just bong to and fro.

    In a previous house in France we could sit out in the evening and hear the bells from five surrounding parishes….I’m sure that they were mechanised, but there was just enough of an interval between for us to imagine a cassocked figure madly pedaling his bike along the country lanes from church to church.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 17, 2015
    • Now THAT is an image to cherish! And you are right about the difference in the way the bells move. I once harboured a desire to become a bell puller in England … I have no such desire here – even it might save a priests pedals 😉

      Like

      October 17, 2015
  5. My tabby ZuZu and I love the sounds of bells. Lovely piece. Clare

    Liked by 1 person

    October 17, 2015
    • ZuZu was the unwitting inspiration for the piece … I’ve had those words resounding in my head all week since discovering you and your kitties. Today I am fully swaddled at home (Saturday is NOT a good day to walk in new places lest The Bean or I get shot at by over-zealous hunters) and happily reading your blog, for which I thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      October 17, 2015
      • Yes, I’ve read your post about those hunters. Oh, and just this week another blogger, Russ, asked if I’d taken ZuZu’s name from “It’s a Wonderful Life” (his favorite movie, too) 3 votes this week for Wonderful Life. Holidays are coming! You’re welcome. Stay safe.

        Like

        October 17, 2015
  6. I never thought about the church bells other than they ring to announce services and weddings…hummm interesting…reminds me of the trains….they have different whistles depending on what they are doing…when we were traveling around the US I learned all the different sounds as l lay in bed listening to them through out the night..all different for crossing major roads to backing up, to here I come..and some were for how fast they were going….interesting…never thought about the church bells representing different events in the church….great post thanks…next time I hear a bell I will wonder whats going on….

    Liked by 1 person

    October 17, 2015
    • Two Brains tells me that in England at least if you hear an E flat sounded, it is a death. I love this story of the train whistles. So evocative!

      Like

      October 17, 2015
      • very interesting these bells…the only thing I hear is every noon a loud whistle goes off in the little town over from us to alert us to the fact it is noon time…LOL some of the churches in town play a recoding of bells clanging on Sundays… Sounds sad to me….like they can’t be bothered to ring the bell…when I was very young and we were sent to Sunday school they would ring the old bell…I loved it….

        Liked by 1 person

        October 17, 2015
      • Bring back the bells! I remember once being terribly naughty as a 5 year old at my first school the head mistress made three of us stay in at break. The other two were sent back outside and I was kept in. My heart sank to it’s lowest level and then the lovely lady handed me the bell to ring the end of lunchtime – it was big and brass with a turned wood handle and a leather strap. I could barely lift it but the sound it made will never leave me 🙂 Whistles are find though!!

        Like

        October 17, 2015
      • I love it….you being naughty….never!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        October 17, 2015
      • 😉 xx

        Like

        October 17, 2015
  7. I read this title and all the way through was thinking Jimmy Stewart and couldn’t understand why.
    I read the bottom and of course, It’s A Wonderful Life! The stalwart of any good christmas…!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 17, 2015
    • Watch it every single Christmas Eve without fail – have several different copies in various states of digital enhancement courtesy of my daughters and can honestly say that it is the ULTIMATE feel good factor even if it isn’t Christmas. Thanks for gracing me with a comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      October 17, 2015
  8. In our French village of choice, the (now pre-recorded) bells ring every hour with a “ting” at the half hour throughout the day and night.
    There is a particularly dramatic carillion at 8 am (get up you lazy b*****s) the a tuneful medley at 8 pm. High days and holidays attract extra variations
    We are quite used to it now, indeed when we are in the UK we struggle to sleep properly on out first night back because, as Trev says, we are “sans ting”

    Liked by 1 person

    October 18, 2015
    • Sans ting – love it! We don’t ding, ting or bong after 10 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      October 18, 2015
  9. Wonderful thought provoking post. We actually flocked to Paris last year (I think, time flies) to hear the bells of Notre damn actually ring for the first time in 150 years (the original bells – Esmeralda)
    We have 4 clocks in our apartment and they all tell a different time – it is only the church bells ringing the half hour that tells me to get a move on or I will be late for work – never realised how much influence they actually have on the rhythm of my day………
    P.S. I stayed at a place in the Dordogne where they bing bonged every 15 minutes all the night!

    Like

    October 18, 2015
    • Oh wow! That must have been amazing … I love Notre Dame probably due to a teenaged addiction to Victor Hugo. The Bells, the bells – they are very influential indeed but I am certain I would rather they did not exert that influence quarter hourly 24/7!!

      Liked by 1 person

      October 19, 2015
  10. Bell comb, how lovely to learn that. Much prefer it to the tower. And as for cacophony – seems to be a fact of French life! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    October 22, 2015
  11. Wonderful post Osyth. Catching up on my reading as you can see. This reminds me of the bells outside our room in the youth hostel in Cortona: http://wp.me/p3gSod-sD Warmest wishes…A

    Liked by 1 person

    October 31, 2015
    • Thank you Andrew … I’m glad it brought back some happy memories and what a stunning view from the window framed by the tour a peigne!

      Liked by 1 person

      October 31, 2015
  12. The mizzle was the biggest gift. A birthday shower makes happy hour. Ok, just made that up. What a nice choice of words, when we do, and are, simply divine.

    Like

    November 7, 2015
  13. Beautiful capture of a slice of life. Lovely use of words, and of course, I love the pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 12, 2015

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