Estonia: The Souls of Church Bells

In most European cities, you almost don’t need a watch to know what time it is. Instead, you have the church bells. Church bells chime in Europe like clockwork. (No pun intended.) Most chime on the hour, every hour, and many even ring every quarter of an hour. They also chime to tell you to attend a church service, or some other religious event or celebration. I have also just heard them play musical songs, or just ring random sounds. I think they are all wonderful sounds. I have come to really appreciate and enjoy hearing the church bells that ring throughout Europe. I have even been lucky many times to have walked up the steps to get to the top of the church tower just in time to hear bells chime. To me, that is such a powerful sound, almost resonating through my body, beating like my heart.

When I was recently in Tallinn, Estonia, I happened to walk into a church where there was a collection of nine church bells from various areas of Estonia. The display was entitled “Church Bells in Estonia,” and I was finally able to learn something about church bells after hearing their chime so many times. Currently there are about 500 church bells in all of Estonia, and the ones that were displayed in this “church museum” dated from as early as 1433, up through 1685. They were old, worn-down church bells, but church bells that have survived over the centuries.

Church Bells in Estonia
Church Bells In Estonia

Some facts about church bells include: Church bells can be described as Baroque, Medieval, or Gothic, depending on the time they were made, their shape, and their decorations and inscriptions. An Estonian bronze church bell is made of 78% copper and 22% tin. “Hundreds of Estonian church bells have perished or been lost in wars, melted in fires, been recast or have simply lost their voice.” (I never realized that a church bell could lose its beautiful chime.) People hid church bells during war time in order to prevent them from being recast. Recasting is the melting down of a church bell that has cracked or has lost its voice, in order to save costs, and then a new church bell is created from the material.

A Church Bell
A Church Bell

Some believe that church bells have “souls that are transmitted through the material.” I believe that the souls are also transmitted through the sounds…ringing to tell the time, or to play a musical song, or just ringing randomly, or to chime a celebration.

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5 Replies to “Estonia: The Souls of Church Bells”

  1. I have very fond memories of church bells in Mexico and can completely relate to your memories of the church bells in Europe! Though I don’t think they chimed every hour, it was still a reassuring sound as we meandered the streets of small villages.

  2. Yes, reassuring is a good way to describe the sounds of the church bells. One day I shall need to get to Mexico to hear the church bells there. Thank you. Debby

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  5. After reading your prayer flag posts on Debby’s Departures, I wonder about all the prayers the older church bells have left to send!

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