Peabody United Methodist Church restores Carillon bells
A familiar sound enjoyed by many returned last spring after a hiatus of several years. The musical tones of the Carillon chimes at Peabody United Methodist Church once again grace the air, bringing with them long-standing memories.
Original Carillon chimes are a musical instrument of around 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells. These instruments were used in bell towers of churches and municipal buildings.
Church records indicate an automatic record player was added to its Carillon Bell system in March 1949. A clock was upgraded in 1996, and the record player replaced by compact disc units.
Virginia Skinner, congregation member and organ player, remembers the bells from when she was a child in the 1950’s.
“We lived about a mile and a half from town and we could hear them out there occasionally, especially when the wind was out of the southwest,” she said.
When Skinner returned to Peabody in 1994 after living away for several years, she quickly found herself playing the chimes.
“The historical society was putting on an event and I played keys on a keyboard that came on the speaker that played outdoors,” she said. “We had them at the services sometimes too.”
An electronic carillon system was an affordable solution to returning the classical sound of church bells to the community.
“I think the whole community benefits and I’ve had several people stop and tell me it’s so good to hear the bells around again,” church pastor Angela DeFisher said. “The church decided to use the money from memorial funds that have been set up in people’s names.”
The system sits in DeFisher’s office, appearing comparable to a desktop computer. Through it, she can program songs for more than just typical church services.
“We have a book with a lot of songs the program came with and can program them for weddings, funerals, and other events,” DeFisher said. “It can also read CDs for specific songs. I’m still trying to figure out a few little things.”
Peabody residents can hear the bells on the hour every day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and for two minutes at noon.
Last modified Feb. 1, 2018