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Rochester Dedication

North America's newest ring of ten

by Don Morrison

The lovely new ring of bells at the Church of the Ascension, in Rochester, New York's Maplewood neighborhood were dedicated the weekend of 20-22 November.

This 11 cwt, ground floor ten in G is the culmination of decades of hard work by Chris and Helen Haller, who were also the major donor of the bells. They were cast earlier this year by Whitechapel, and installed under the supervision of Whitechapel bell hanger Neil Thomas, and first rung in early September.

The weekend's festivities began late Friday, with the first of dozens of visiting ringers arriving, from Birmingham, Kalamazoo, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Washington DC and the UK. The evening was filled with general ringing, mostly on all ten, followed by dinner and drinks at an Irish pub.

Saturday began with more general ringing, followed by a well planned and attended dedication service. The bells were blessed by the Rt Rev Dr Prince Singh, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.

A lot of thought went into the naming of the bells, some named after personal connections to the Hallers, and others prominent champions of civil rights; and each bell is inscribed with apposite lines from Tennyson's "In Memoriam A H H." The six is named Geddes, honoring the late North American ringer, who died of AIDS at far too young an age. As part of the dedication service Helen and Chris described the ten people for whom the bells were named, and representatives of families or organizations associated with these individuals either spoke, or had messages read to the congregation.

At the conclusion of the dedication three good courses of Grandsire Caters were rung, and a reception was held in the church's Great Hall. A beautiful cake was the highlight of the many refreshments provided. The large number of non-ringing visitors showed tremendous interest in the bells, and the reception provided a wonderful opportunity for the asking and answering of questions within small groups.

Chris and Helen asked a band composed of folks from nearby towers who have supported ringers from upstate New York over the years to ring the first peal on the bells. A good peal of Plain Bob Caters was rung, Chris ringing the nine, named for Pete Seeger. The only slight complication was when two folks pushed aside the chair blocking one of the doors, ignored the signs saying to please keep out, and wandered through the ringing room!

Following the peal all adjourned to a local restaurant where a private room had been booked.

Sunday morning there was service ringing both before and after the 10:00 service, again predominately on all ten.

The dedication weekend coincided with the annual peal weekend of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths, and Chris and Helen kindly invited a band of SRCY members resident in North America to ring a peal on the Sunday afternoon. This, too, was successful, the first of royal on the bells.

The local band is keen to have visitors, and to have these wonderful bells be an asset not just locally, but to North American ringing. They conveniently practice on Sunday afternoons, and are a great, new tower to visit!

Details of the ten bells:

Treble: named "Trudy," for Trudy Haller.

3 cwt, 1 qtr, 11 lb, Note B

Inscribed "Ring out the old, ring in the new."

2: "Christian," for Christian J Haller, DVM.

3 cwt, 2 qtr, 7 lb, A

"Ring, happy bells, across the snow."

3: "Susan," for Susan B Anthony, who lived most of her life in Rochester.

3 cwt, 3 qtr, 15 lb, G

"Ring out the false, ring in the true."

4: "Patricia," for Patricia A Bishop.

4 cwt, 0 qtr, 10 lb, F#

"Ring in the love of truth and right.”

5: "Woody," for Woody Guthrie.

4 cwt, 0 qtr, 20 lb, E

"Ring out the feud of rich and poor."

6: "Geddes," for North American ringer Geddes.

4 cwt, 3 qtr, 9 lb, D

"Ring in the nobler modes of life."

7: "Julian," for St Julian of Norwich.

5 cwt, 1 qtr, 26 lb, C

"Ring out the want, the care, the sin."

8: "Frederick," for Frederick Douglass, who spent much of his life in Rochester.

6 cwt, 0 qtr, 27 lb, Note B

"Ring in the valiant man and free.”

9: "Pete," for Pete Seeger.

8 cwt, 1 qtr, 5 lb, A

"Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace."

Tenor: "Martin," for the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

11 cwt, 1 qtr, 7 lb, G

"Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be."

Posted Nov 25, 2015


Christopher ColonDec 06 2015, 1:39 am

The inscriptions on these bells are trully inspiring!I look forward to visiting and ringing at Ascension church in the near future. Chris and Helen worked so hard for these bells and I hope they ring out loud for many years to come!

Jeremy BatesDec 12 2015, 4:09 pm

Congratulations to Chris and Helen and all the Rochester ringers.

I too love the inscriptions. What a wonderful and diverse grouping of faithful, creative, and righteous people.

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