The St Clements Church Bellringers are hosting a ‘come and try’ session today, Saturday, February 19. 

Bell ringing, also known as campanology, is the traditional art of ringing church bells in sequences known as ‘changes’. 

The ringing is done in a small team where each ringer pulls the rope for a single bell, which chimes a single ‘note’. 

When all the bells are rung together, the sound is strong and vibrant. It’s a unique hobby for anyone looking for something social, mentally stimulating and rewarding.

Christopher O’Mahony from St Saviour’s Cathedral in Goulburn rung his first ever peal at St Clement’s 40 years ago as a fresh-faced 15-year-old.

“I’ve been here [at St Clements] many times, but the very first time I came here was in 1981,” he said. “It’s lovely to be able to come and ring, they’re very fine bells here.”

“It’s taken me all over the world,” he said. “It’s a wonderful hobby.”

Christopher has rung bells all over Australia and New Zealand and overseas. Letting out peals at Westminster Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, York Minster, and Washington National Cathedral.

“It takes a little bit of training,” Christopher said. “Like any musical instrument you have to learn the technique and the theory before you can then progress on to higher skills.”

But he said it’s a gentle and very aerobic exercise that can be great for your back. 

Christopher described bell ringing as an external choir that calls people into the church. 

“[Bellringers] are very celebratory people,” he said. “We’re always acknowledging special and significant events in people’s lives, whether it’s weddings, funerals, baptisms, or civic events like Australia Day, Anzac Day, Christmas Day, and Easter.” 

“Bell ringers are there making a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

“I think when a community hears bells ringing, it enlivens something inside them,” Christopher said. “There’s a rhythm there, there’s a resonance with our daily lives.”

If you are interested in becoming a bellringer, or just curious to see what it’s all about head over to the bell tower at St Clements Anglican Church at 20 Church Street, Yass.

Local bellringers will provide some demonstrations, and participants are welcome to try their hand at the bells.

Two sessions will be run on Saturday at 11 am and 1:30 pm and some light snacks will be provided.

Brianna O’Rourke

St Clement’s Anglican Church, Church Street Yass