For centuries, have been the attention-getters, drawing people together for an emergency, for church services or for the news.
Bells toll at the announcement of a new Pope and at the death of heads of state. Traditionally, in decades past, every village had a bell, which served as a warning or call to bring people together when everyone needed to know something.
A bell is usually made of metal, though smaller hand-held are sometimes made of ceramic or glass, is a sort of semi-circle with a clapper inside. The shape of the bell is designed so that when the clapper strikes the side of the bell, the sound reverberates outward.
The size of the bell, as well as the material it is made of, determine the resonance that it sounds at, resulting in a deep ringing tone or a high pitched tinkle. Smaller hand-held are played as percussion instruments in some countries, particularly during the winter holiday season. Larger bells, the size of a man or larger, adorn church towers and village meeting halls.
For centuries the bell was used to call people together. Many homes had a dinner bell to call the large family to the table to eat and many communities used a bell in the days before sirens and alarm systems to warn of everything from a fire to an upcoming event, like a village council meeting.
Early were also a manner of calling to people when clocks were less prevalent. A tolling bell tower in the center of town could alert people tot he time of day or an important event. In most churches, the were rung prior to the beginning of services to allow people to have time to travel to the church and to alert them that it was time to arrive.
were also rung at funerals to let mourners know that funeral services had ended or that a deathly-ill person had passed. One of the world’s most famous bells, the American Liberty Bell, was cracked when it was rung to announce the death of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall.
Traditionally, many were hung in high towers so that they could be heard throughout a region. For those bells, a rope or chain had to be attached to allow a person standing several floors below to exert enough force to move the bell, causing the clapper to “ring” against its side.
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