Ring Those Bells


Bell ringing for the Olympics
World of Good, via Flickr

How do you celebrate special public events? Colin Lowther and Robin Basselin look at large bell ringing events in the United Kingdom.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The sound of bells. People use bells for many different things. Bells in city clocks tell time. Bells on farm animals, like cows or goats, help a farmer find the animal. Bells in schools tell children when to go in. And people of different faiths use bells in worship in their churches and temples.

Voice 2 

People also use bells to mark special events. In some Christian churches, large bells ring when people get married. This is a happy sound. Several bells play together. When someone dies it is different. A single bell sounds very slowly. It is a serious, sad sound.

Voice 1

In the United Kingdom, people have special bell ringing events. Hundreds, or even thousands of people ring bells together. Today’s Spotlight is on some of these very large bell ringing events.

Voice 2

It was Friday the 27th of July 2012 - the first morning of the London Olympics. The time was 12 minutes past eight in the morning. Thousands of people in all parts of the United Kingdom were ready to take part in a special event. It was a bell ringing event, to celebrate the start of the Olympics. The bell ringing was going to last for three minutes. And it was going to be very loud.

Voice 1

A very famous bell started the event - Big Ben. Big Ben is in Elizabeth Tower near the Houses of Parliament in London. Big Ben sounded 40 times during the three minutes.

Voice 2 

While Big Ben rang, everyone else rang their bells too. All over the country people rang bells. People used many different kinds of bell. There were clock bells, church bells, door bells, animal bells, hand bells and fire bells. There were even Tibetan singing bells, and Swiss cow bells. But everyone rang their bells as loudly and quickly as possible.

Voice 1 

The idea for this mass bell ringing came from the artist Martin Creed. He wanted everyone in the country to share in the Olympic Games. Most people could not attend the Games in person. But anyone could ring a bell and join in the fun. He told the BBC,

Voice 3

‘It is a piece of music for a special event’.

Voice 2 

Creed also hoped to set a new world record - a record for the largest number of bells rung at the same time. But this was not possible. No one could count all the individual bells that rang during the special event!

Voice 1 

But we do know that thousands of people and organisations took part in the event. And they were not just in the United Kingdom. Ships at sea sounded their bells. British Embassies in many countries rang bells. Even scientists at the British Antarctic Survey found a way to join in. They were at the bottom of the world, in Antartica. They did not have anything at all like a bell. So they hit their cooking pots and pans to make a loud and happy noise! Everyone wanted to experience the celebration together.

Voice 2

Earlier in 2012 there was another mass bell ringing. It was to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth the Second. Queen Elizabeth had reigned for 60 years.

Voice 1 

Eight new bells were made especially for the celebration. Each bell was given the name of a member of the Queen’s family. The largest bell was called Elizabeth. A large boat carried the eight bells. This bell boat led a huge parade of boats on the River Thames. The Queen was in the one of the boats. People in the bell boat rang the bells. The bells were very loud. The bells continued ringing as the boats floated down the river.

Voice 2 

But it was not just the eight special bells that rang. The boat parade passed churches on both sides of the river Thames. People rang the bells in these churches as the boat parade passed. And at the same time people rang church bells all over the country. They all celebrated the Queen’s long reign.

Voice 1 

That mass bell ringing event celebrated a 60th anniversary. Another mass bell ringing event was held on the anniversary of something that happened more than 200 years ago.

Voice 2 

Over 200 years ago it was legal to buy and sell slaves in the British Empire. Most people accepted this fact. But some people thought it was wrong. This group included writers, government leaders, religious leaders and normal citizens. But it took many years of hard work to change the law. Protesters gathered information about the terrible conditions slaves experienced. They shared this information in books, newspapers and at public meetings.

Voice 1

People were shocked when they heard about the suffering of the slaves. Opinions began to change. Finally the British Parliament voted to end the slave trade in the British Empire. They called this law the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. King George the Third signed the Act at noon on the 25th of March 1807.

Voice 2

Exactly 200 years later a mass bell ringing event celebrated this law. At noon on the 25th of March 2007 many people rang bells in towns and cities across the United Kingdom, and in many other countries. In the city of Bristol people rang bells for three hours. Individual people rang many different kinds of bells too. They did it to remember the struggle to end the slave trade.

Voice 1 

But this mass bell ringing event had another purpose too. It was a call to change things that are still wrong in the world. The Bishop of Bristol told the BBC,

Voice 4

‘It is a good time to ring the bells. It is to remember past wrongs. It is also to call for action. Unequal and unfair things still exist both in our own communities and all over the world’.

Voice 2

Have you ever rung a bell? Was it for a special event? Share your experiences on our website, www.radioenglish.net.

Voice 1

The writer of this programme was Joy Smith. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this programme and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this programme again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, ‘Ring Those Bells’.

Voice 2 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you will join us again.

Question:

Does your community celebrate special events in a special way? Does everyone join together? Or does everyone do something different?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Lramirez0516
said on March 04, 2013

In the state of nature, liberty consists of being free from any superior power on Earth.

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on March 04, 2013

Every bell has different meaning.
I know some bells in my country such as the bell annoucing time for coming class,the pagoda bell resounds every evening (about 5-6 PM o’clock) or while people come to pagoda to burn incense and praise.Its sound show a peacefull felling.And the bell of vendors…

 

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on December 26, 2016

At Ethiopia, where I live as refugee, the predominantly celebrations loud music and singing,,, and even scream.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Kim Kim
said on January 04, 2017

i have never joined a community celebrate event using bell. But the late this month ( January. 2017) we’re going to use bells in celebration of the new year. In Vietnam, we’re going to celebrate new year basing lunar calendar. This is the first time we use bell to celebrate. As every year, we usually have fireworks, But this year the government leaders want to change it. Hope it will special and fun.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on February 01, 2017

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Wednesday 01, February 2017
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Robin Basselin, Joy Smith, Luke Haley, and Colin Lowther:

At first, I want to thank you for bringing us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!
Yes, It does. On Christmas day, the churches ring their bells to celebrate the Jesus’ birth.
Yes, It does. In this event many people go to the churches to watch the Mass from Priest.
Yes, It does. There are many people that prefer to celebrate the Jsus’ birth at home together with threir families.

God bless you
Severino Ramos
Brazil