Liturgy Lesson: Sanctus Bells

Liturgy Lesson: Sanctus Bells

Sanctus bells are chimes rung during the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) and have been part of worship in the Holy Eucharist for over 800 years. At All Saints, we ring them just before the consecration, signaling we're about to enter the holiest portions of the service—tasking us to devotion to the Lord's Presence as the priest elevates the consecrated host and chalice. It's also a joyful noise to the Lord, obedient to Scripture, and heralds the supernatural at the Holy Table, when we call the Holy Spirit down into the elements at the Epiclesis, transforming them from mere wine and bread to containing the Real Presence of the Lord! Bells are mentioned in the Old Testament—notably in Exodus 28:33-35, describing Aaron’s vestments to enter the Holy of Holies: “On its skirts you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet stuff, around its skirts, with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and a pomegranate, round about on the skirts of the robe.” They were likely used for two reasons. First, worshipping with a joyful noise to God, (Psalm 98:4) and, secondly, apotropaic—warding off unclean spirits—to protect Aaron as he entered God’s Presence.

They also signified adoration to God during early times, according to Zechariah 14:20. Ancient cymbals in Psalm 150:5-6 resembled modern bells and led to using bells in the Church as early as the fifth century, when Saint Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, rang them to call monks to worship. Sounding bells during Communion derives from the tintinnabula (tiny bells) in ancient Judaic worship and were brought indoors by English churches, who originated our custom here.

They are, then, both joyful and reverent, tasking us to devotion and attention to granting us His Presence in the Communion, so we can have His life in us by partaking. Consequently, we are very orthodox Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that ”

 

Collect for the 7th Sunday After Trinity

LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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