Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Masland Church Bell

This very church bell was placed on the bell tower on top of the original Masland Church which faced the Island Road in this 50's black and white photo. The bell was in this church for more than 50 years! The original Masland Church was built of the best belian wood that Hoover himself selected.

This is Sibu's beloved Masland Church Bell measuring 26" in height with a diameter of 30" at the rim. Its thickness is 3 " . It was made by McShane and Co in 1883!! The photo is taken by Rev Kong Chiong Ling and posted by Wong Meng Lei in his blog, Rejang Basin. Meng Lei wrote " before the renovation, the bell rang true at six on every Sunday." However I remember, perhaps wrongly that in the early 60's it rang at eight for the 8 o'clock service too.

On the bell is this inscription "The voice of one is crying out in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Indeed many elders of yesteryears and believers of recent times have been preparing all for the way of the Lord.

These Three Bells of Tuscon Church remind me of the many church bells I used to admire when I was a student. My classmates and I used to look up books for pictures of church steeples and church bells,after we had a special History of English Literature lessons with Mr. KV Wiltshire. He impressed us with a true demonstration of how bell ringing was like in England.

Most young girls then had all those romantic ideas of marrying in a church with all the church bells ringing. Furthermore as we looked at those pictures we would build up our hopes of marrying well too. I suppose that was part of growing up. But by the time we planned our own wedding the traditional ringing of church bells for a wedding had gone out of fashion in Sibu.

And here I am wishing that all young ladies could have a beautiful wedding with real church bells ringing.

One of the oldest church bells in the world. The Saleby Church Bell in Sweden.

The resounding Masland church bell ringing on Sundays at six and again at 8 a.m. was a call to worship and a gentle reminder to all the Methodists in Sibu. They Foochows probably made up three-quarters of the religious Methodist citizenry of that time. For years from the time of the Hoovers who received the donation of the bell, until very recently the Masland Church bell rang true and clear.

When the church bell rang we felt the pull to go to church. Many motor launches reached Sibu just in time for church going, cheerful women would walk towards the Masland Church. Family bonds were re-established and old friendships renewed at the church. Sunday morning was always so wonderful.

"Bells toll to signal, warn, celebrate". To me when the bell tolled I felt all at once comforted that I was home in Sibu. And the week had started as Sunday was considered the first day of the week.

Perhaps many young people do not appreciate a church bell or do not even know that once Sibu had a remarkable church bell and it should be of great historical value.

According to Wikipedia, a church bell is a bell which is rung in a (especially Christian) church either to signify the hour or the time for worshippers to go to church, perhaps to attend a wedding, funeral, or other service. Before mass communication they were the only way to gather a village together, so they evolved secular functions also.

European Christian church bells typically have the form of a cup-shaped cast metal resonator with a flared thickened rim, and a pivoted metal striker or clapper hanging from its center inside. It is usually mounted high in a bell tower on top of the church, so it can be heard by the surrounding community. The bell is suspended at its apex from a horizontal axle, so it can swing from side to side. A rope is tied to a pulley or lever on the axle, and hangs down to ground level. To ring the bell, the bell ringer pulls on the rope, swinging the bell. The motion causes the clapper to hit the inside rim of the bell as it swings, making the sound. Alternatively, the bell may be suspended from a stationary support, and the bell rung by pulling a rope attached to the clapper to one side.

Some church bells are very old indeed. A bell, from Saleby, Västergötland, Sweden contains an inscription from 1228 in the Runic alphabet!

In many Catholic churches, the ringing of a church bell for the Angelus prayer, in the morning, at midday and in the evening, is called the Angelus bell.

Some church bells are electronically timed to chime automatically. Clocks generally automatically strike, but in the United Kingdom, bells for services, etc., are still almost always rung by people. Some churches use recorded or digitally synthesised bells.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church there is a long and complex history of bell ringing, with particular bells being rung in particular ways to signify different parts of the divine services, Funeral tolls, etc. This custom is particularly sophisticated in the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian bells are usually fixed, and are tolled by pulling on a rope that is attached to the clapper so that it will strike the side of the bell.

Church bells became common in Europe in the early Middle Ages. They were first common in northern Europe, reflecting Celtic influence, especially that of Irish missionaries. Before the use of church bells, Greek monasteries would ring a flat metal plate to announce services. The signa and companae used to announce services before Irish influence may have been flat plates like the semantron rather than bells.

In World War Two in Great Britain, all church bells were silenced, to ring only to inform of an invasion by enemy troops. The episode "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage" of the BBC sitcom Dad's Army included a scene where the church bells rang by mistake, leading the Home Guard to believe that an invasion was taking place.

The practice and hobby of bell-ringing is known as campanology. Change ringing is a particular facet of campanology where bells are rung in mathematical sequence. Wedding cards commonly show bells: this is founded on the tradition of ringing changes as the wedding couple leave the church.
A simple instrument, the bell has been used to signal, warn, announce, celebrate and mourn for thousands of years. There are examples of primitive bells made out of wood, shell and other materials. The Chinese used bells as long ago as 800 B.C. The Old Testament recounts that the high priests of the Israelites wore bells as protection against evil spirits. In ancient Greece, bells were rung to announce that freshly caught fish had arrived at market; the early Romans used them to call the faithful to worship. Celtic tribes, famous for their bell-making, brought the instrument to northern Europe in the fourth century.

The subject of legends, bells have been empowered to induce rain or ward off storms, protect against demons and to cast and remove spells. As a hallmark of resistance, they are a patriotic symbol throughout the world.

Religions of the world have bestowed upon them special significance. the Buddhists ring bells to communicate with spirits, the Russian Orthodox Church holds that they directly address the deity; Roman Catholics believe they symbolize the voice of God and paradise. The tolling of a bell also holds nostalgic value. The clanging of the bell on a slow-moving steam locomotive is a reminder of a simpler, gentler time. The rejoicing sound of church bells on Easter morning or the melodic klingle of the Salvation Army’s bells during the Christmas season prompt us to remember, relish and celebrate. The melodic jangle of the school bell is indeed a reminder of an innocent, enthusiastic youth.

Vigo County Historical Museum.

Source: The Web site:

8 memories:

I Am Sarawakiana said...

ML do you think you could do me a favour by taking a photograph of the Masland Bell?

Where is it now?

Is there an old photo in your archives? I have been looking for one.

It would be interesting to find out how many church bells we have in Sarawak!!

Ketam said...

I missed the sound of bell from the St Stephen's Church in Bau. In Klang, I've never heard any!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

It would be nice one day we could have a good collection of photos of churches with bells and/or steeples.

Is the St. Stephen Church still in Bau?

\Thanks for dropping by. Churches should continue to ring their bells.

天鵝江畔 said...

The renovation is going on at Masland Church at this moment, so can't go up n take the pictures.
The bell rings before every Sunday service.
Rev Kong (DS) did wrote an article about this bell at Chinese Methodist Message Issue 513 at January 2003.
I ll try to look the pic for you later.

天鵝江畔 said...

Hi, Chanyi,
Finally i found the bell pic, pls log in my blog to check:

天鵝江畔 said...

The photo was taken by DS REv Kong Chiong Ling, I just post it.
We are facing the complains from the church neighbour, so some of the community churches are not ringing the bell nowaday, eg Zion Methodist.

Mumble jumble said...

We will never hear church bells go ringing, except in Malacca.

Its so soothing to hear. I was once woken up by a bell ringing from a church in Malacca, and I went to that church immediately.

I have very vague memories of Masland church. Is it still a gigantic church?

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Yes I agree with you that church bells are very soothing and comforting.

The Masland Church at the moment is being renovated and it is a grand church now. The old one no longer exist.

You must see it one day to feel its grandeur.

Thanks for visiting.


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