BELLOWS, HENRY WHITNEY: American Unitarian; b. in Boston June 11, 1814; d. in New York Jan. 30, 1882. He was graduated at Harvard 1832, and at the Cambridge Divinity School 1837; was ordained pastor of the First Congregational Society (Unitarian), Chambers Street, New York, Jan. 2, 1838, and remained there till death; during his pastorate the church was twice moved, to Broadway between Spring and Prince Streets and the name changed to the Church of the Divine Unity, and again to 4th Avenue and 20th Street, where it took the name of All Souls' Church. Dr. Bellows was the organizer, president, and chief administrator of the United States Sanitary Commission (1862-78), and during the Civil War he superintended with rare efficiency the distribution of supplies valued at $15,000,000 and $5,000,000 in money; at a later period he was president of the first civil service reform association organized in the country. He was president of the National Unitarian Conference 1865-79. He wrote much for the periodicals of his denomination and was the chief originator of The Christian Inquirer (New York, 1846) and for five years its principal contributor. He also published a number of books, of merely personal and transient interest.
Walafrid Strabo distinguishes two classes of bells in his time, vasa productilia and fusilia, wrought and cast. Of the now rare examples of the former class the best known is the "Saufang" at Cologne, so called because the legend ran that it had been dug up by pigs about 613; it is made of three plates of iron fastened together with copper nails. Similar and perhaps older examples are in the Edinburgh Museum. For the casting of bells a mixture of copper and tin was employed in the Middle Ages; afterward lead, zinc, iron, and antimony were used with copper. At present the best bell-metal is supposed to be a mixture of 77 to 80 per cent of good copper with 20 to 23 per cent of pure tin. The earliest cast bells resemble cow-bells in form, though there are some shaped more like a beehive or a pear. Their dimensions are small.
As far as can be judged from the extant examples, the custom of putting inscriptions on bells does not go further back than the twelfth century, and is by no means general even then. On cast bells the inscriptions are rarely incised; where this occurs, it is a sign of antiquity. Later they are more commonly raised, and in either Roman or Gothic capitals down to the end of the fourteenth century; then small letters were used until about 1550, and since then more modern types of letters have been usual, except in recent deliberate imitations of the old style. Until well into the fourteenth century Latin was the regular language; then the vernacular came into use. The earliest inscriptions were short; from the end of the sixteenth century much longer ones became usual, frequently almost filling the surface of the bell. They are mostly pious dedications or prayers, or declarations of the purpose of the bell, such as Funera plango, fulgura frango, sabbata pango; excito lentos, dissipo ventos, paco cruentos. Besides inscriptions, the sides of bells were adorned with pictures, coats of arms, seals, and various symbols, among the oldest being, besides the cross, the dove with the olive-branch, and the Agnus Dei.
As early as the Frankish sacramentaries and the Pontifical of Egbert special formulas for the benediction of bells are mentioned. This practise was connected in those days with superstitious notions, so that Charlemagne was obliged to regulate it in 789. But the formulas of benediction themselves attributed a quasimagical effect to the bells thus consecrated. According to present Roman Catholic usage, the blessing of bells is an episcopal prerogative, though priests may exercise it in case of necessity with the pope's permission. The ceremonies somewhat resemble those of baptism, which has given rise to the practise of naming bells, and in the Middle Ages of appointing sponsors for them, from whom rich christening gifts were expected. The Schmalkald Articles declared bitterly against these practises as "popish jugglery" and "a mockery of holy baptism."
The main use of bells has always been to announce the time of public worship. It is also a common Roman Catholic practise to ring the church bell at the consecration in the mass, as in some Protestant localities at the Lord's Prayer after the sermon, that those who are absent may unite themselves in spirit with the congregation. During the mass, moreover, a small bell (called the "Sanctus " or "sacring" bell) is rung at the specially solemn partsthe Sanctus , the beginning of the canon, the consecration, and the Domine, non sum dignus. Bells have been rung also at certain regular times to call to mind some mystery, as the passion and death or the incarnation of Christ (see ANGELUS), or to bid to prayer for sinners, for the faithful departed, or for peace. The ringing of joyous peals at marriages, and the announcement of a death by solemn tolling (originally intended to move the hearers to prayer for the soul, either before or after death) are ancient practises; the latter existed, at least in the monasteries, in the time of Bede. In some parts of England a special bell was tolled with a similar intention before the execution of a criminal.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Literature on the subject is given in H. T. Ellacombe, Practical Remarks on Belfries and Ringers, with an Appendix on Chiming, London, 1859-60; H. Otte, Glockenkunde, pp. 1-6, Leipsic, 1884; and F. W. Schubart, Die Glocken im Herzogthum Anhalt, pp. xiv-xvii, Dessau, 1896. H. T. Ellacombe has a series of works treating of English bells, among which are: Sundry Words About Bells, Exeter, 1864; Church Bells of Devon, ib. 1872; Church Bells of Somerset, 1875; Church Bells of Gloucestershire, 1881. Consult also: Joseph Anderson, Scotland in Early Times, 1st series, pp. 167-215, Edinburgh, 1881; F. W. Warren, Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church, p. 92, Oxford, 1881; Margaret Stokes, Early Christian Art in Ireland, pp. 50 sqq., London, 1887; J. T. Fowler; Adamnani Vita S. Columb, pp xliii-xliv, Oxford, 1894; K. H. Bergner, Zur Glockenkunde Thüringens, Jena, 1896; Encyclopdia Britannica, s.v., contains interesting material not easily found elsewhere; DCA, i, 184-186.
Calvin College. Last modified on 05/10/04. Contact the CCEL.