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Altar Bells ( Has a Cross Handle)
Altar Bells
Sanctus bells

In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and in some churches of the Anglican Communion, an altar or sanctus bell is typically a small hand-held bell or set of bells. The primary reason for the use of sanctus/altar bell(s) is to create a joyful noise to the Lord as a way to give thanks for the miracle taking place atop the Altar of Sacrifice. [1] A ancillary function of the bell(s) is to focus the attention of those attending the Mass that a supernatural event is taking place on the altar. [2] Such bells are also commonly referred to as the Mass bell', sacring bell, Sacryn bell, saints' bell, sance-bell, or sanctus bell (or "bells", when there are three).[3] and are kept on the credence or some other convenient location within the sanctuary.

Contents

Use at the Ordinary Form of the Mass

During the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Pauline Mass)the bell(s) may be rung during the Epiclesis and during both Major Elevations of the Host and of the chalice containing the Precious Blood. Whether nor not they are rung is up to the individual priestly celebrant.

Use at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

In during the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine Mass), according to the rubrics, the Altar Bell is rung only at the Sanctus and at the elevation of both Species[4] to invite the faithful to the act of adoration at the Consecration. This must be done even in private chapels.[5] It may also be rung at the Domine non sum dignus, and again before the distribution of Holy Communion to the laity, and at other times according to the custom of the place.

When the Blessed Sacrament is publicly exposed,

  1. It may or may not be rung at high Mass, and at a low Mass which takes the place of the high Mass, celebrated at the Altar of Exposition, according to the custom of the place.
  2. It is not rung at low Masses at any altar of such church, but in such cases a low signal may be given with the bell at the sacristy door when the priest is about to begin Mass.[6]
  3. It is not rung at high Mass celebrated at an altar other than that on which the Blessed Sacrament is publicly exposed.[7]

It should not be rung at low Masses whilst a public celebration is taking place, and at any Mass during the public recitation of the Divine Office in choir, if a said Mass be celebrated at an altar near the choir.[8]

It is not rung from the end of the Gloria in excelsis at the Mass of the Lord's Supper until the beginning of the Gloria in excelsis at the Easter Vigil. During this interval the Memoriale Rituum[9] prescribes that the clapper (crotalus) be used to give the signal for the Angelus, but it is nowhere prescribed in the liturgical functions. The custom of using the clapper on these occasions appears quite proper. The Congregation of Sacred Rites (10 September, 1898) when asked if a gong may be used instead of the small bell answered, "Negative; seu non convenire".

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Anglican use

Some Anglo-Catholic (High Church Anglican) parishes use the altar bell, which is rung to signify the Real Presence of Christ in the sacred Elements. During the Eucharist, it is usually rung three times - once before the Words of Institution, and once at each elevation of the Host and of the Chalice. It may also be rung to indicate the time that the faithful may come forward to receive Communion.

The bells are also rung when the monstrance or ciborium is exposed or processed, for example when moving the reserved Sacrament from a side altar to the high altar. Custom differs concerning its use at Low Mass, or during Lent and Holy Week.

Methodist use

In some Methodist churches, particularly the United Methodist Church of the United States, altar bells are used two different times during common services held on sundays.[10] The Chimes of the Trinity are rung by an acolyte before the prelude of the service and at the end of the benediction. The Chimes of the Trinity is the ringing of the bell three times to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

References

  1. ^ Herrera, Matthew D.Sanctus Bells: Their History and Use in the Catholic Church. San Luis Obispo: Tixlini Scriptorium, 2004. http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/sanctusbells.pdf
  2. ^ Herrera, Matthew D.Sanctus Bells: Their History and Use in the Catholic Church. San Luis Obispo: Tixlini Scriptorium, 2004. http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/sanctusbells.pdf
  3. ^ Herrera, Matthew D.Sanctus Bells: Their History and Use in the Catholic Church. San Luis Obispo: Tixlini Scriptorium, 2004. http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/sanctusbells.pdf
  4. ^ Miss. Rom., Ritus celebr., tit. vii, n. 8, and tit. viii, n. 6
  5. ^ Cong. Sac. Rit., 18 July, 1885
  6. ^ Gardellini, Instr. Clem., nos. 16, 4, 5
  7. ^ Cong. Sac. Rit., 31 August, 1867
  8. ^ Cong. Sac. Rit., 21 November, 1893
  9. ^ Memoriale Rituum, Tit. iv, sec. 4, n. 7
  10. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=t78QAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA391&lpg=PA391&dq=methodist+altar+bell&source=bl&ots=d1lGkd8RR9&sig=8aF0teJKRHWeFKRnmTHmuVB4GK0&hl=en&ei=1siCSv65MNWvtgfs2MnSCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=&f=false

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.


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