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What to know about Trinity Lutheran Church's bell-ringing tradition

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Nov. 8, 2013 at 5:08 a.m.

Three bells ring in the Trinity Lutheran Church's tower in Victoria.

OTHER DOWNTOWN CHURCH BELLS

• Church: Our Lady of Lourdes

• Denomination: Catholic

Bell ringing times: Daily at noon and 6 p.m.

• Church: St. Mary's

• Denomination: Catholic

Bell ringing times: 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m daily; 5 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday

• Church: Our Lady of Sorrows

• Denomination: Catholic

• Bell ringing times: 6 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

The church bells of downtown Victoria ring daily over the square - and have for more than 100 years.

A joyous sound of recorded traditional hymns and old-fashioned bell ringing, the bells summon Christians everywhere that church services, weddings or a funeral is about to begin.

And while other churches in the downtown area ring bells, one church started the tradition in Victoria in 1908: Trinity Lutheran, at the intersection of East Constitution and De Leon Streets.

Here's 10 things you didn't know about Trinity's downtown ringing church bells:

  1. Trinity Church's original brass bells were dedicated with a German inscription to the then German-speaking church in 1908. The bells originally hung on the East Constitution Street side, and a parishioner of the church climbed two and three ladders as many as four times daily to pull the cords attached to the bells.
  2. The original bells, along with the steeple, were moved to a new bell tower in the new sanctuary when the church completed its renovation in the 1950s. The original bell tower remains in the chapel, but does not house any bells.
  3. The bells are made of brass and weigh thousands of pounds.
  4. One of the original bells broke from its cradle and fell two stories from the original bell tower. It is now on display in Trinity's garden.
  5. The bells ring during the week by a carillon system, which is programmed to play recorded hymns at 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. The carillon sounds similar to authentic bells.
  6. Members of the church ring the bells by hand, using long, thick cords, Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The carillon rings Sundays at noon and 5 p.m.
  7. The hymns of the carillon change to represent the life and seasons of Jesus: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.
  8. Some of the hymns played throughout the year include, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Away in a manager," "Blessed Jesus" and "Savior like a Shepherd."
  9. The carillon has been used by the church since the 1950s. Prior to the carillon, the bells were rung by hand.
  10. The original bells were given to the church by the Rev. Karl Weiss and church member Michael Weber in 1908.

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