St. Peter's Bells
The St. Peter’s bell tower is equipped with a playable chime including nine large bells cast at the Meneely Bell Foundry in West Troy, New York in the late 1800s. The bells are fixed in the highest level of the bell tower and played by a console of levers, known as a chimestand, on the second level of the tower. Nine clothes-line ropes connect the levers of the chimestand to the clappers of the bells, allowing the ringer to play from three stories below.
“(The Bells) will daily remind (us) to honor the one whom the angels honor… They will peal out joyously when a Christian bride blushingly approaches the sacred rite of matrimony, and perhaps later on their tone will mournfully accord with the grief which has dimmed her bright hopes, and the form of some dearly loved on is laid in the bosom of mother earth. Still, to her Catholic heart, that knell will bid her pray… and in still being able to assist the departed, she finds her consolation.” – Article covering the blessing of the bells of St. Peter’s from the New Brunswick Weekly Fredonian, June 1870.
This sketch from the website of the Meneely Bell Foundry depicts a setup similar to the St. Peter’s chime.
This chimestand is located on the second level of our bell tower.
- The bells were blessed in a solemn ceremony on June 29, 1870 (the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul).
- After a few days for installation, the bells were first chimed on the Fourth of July, 1870.
- Among the first songs played was Hail Columbia, considered during that era to be our nation’s unofficial national anthem.
- The largest bell weighs 2,100 pounds.
- Traditionally, all bells are given names. The largest bell was given the name “Mary Immaculate.” The other names are unknown.
- There are nine bells in total, each tuned to a specific note.
- The notes are F, G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, E, F (an F-Major scale with the addition of a flat-seven).
- The bells most often chime in F-major, Bb-major, or G-minor.
- On the second level of the bell tower, there is a mural depicting the bells as they are seen on the top level.
List of Known Ringers:
Loren Bragdon (First director of the Rutgers Glee Club)
J. Norris Harding Jr.
J. Norris Harding III
Anthony R. Nardino