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On the centenary of the Armistice, bells ring out across the UK in commemoration and rejoicing. From death knells to joyful peals, Mark Tully celebrates the power of bells.

On the centenary of the Armistice, bells ring out across the UK in commemoration and rejoicing. From death knells to joyful peals, Mark Tully celebrates the power of bells.

During both World Wars, church bells were silenced. They were allowed to be rung only as alarm bells to warn of an invasion. On Armistice Day, ringers rushed to belfries to sound the bells in relief and jubilation. At St Dunstan’s Church in East Sussex, Mark meets some of those ringers’ contemporary counterparts, and hears how ringing connects them to the past.

Readings from Dylan Thomas, AP Herbert and Carol Ann Duffy show the role of bells in remembrance, celebration and congregation. Music includes pieces which mixes orchestral instruments with recordings of church bells.

Readers: Rachel Atkins, Paterson Joseph and Francis Cadder
Presenter: Mark Tully
Producer: Hannah Marshall
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4

28 minutes

Music Played

Adding a track to My Tracks will no longer be available from late March
  • Arvo Part

    Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten

    Performer: Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester.
    • Secret Classics.
    • Delos (1994).
    • 1.
  • Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band

    Ring the Bell Watchman

    • Ringing The Changes.
    • Park Records (2009).
    • 9.
  • Benjamin Till

    Oranges and Lemons

    Performer: The Rebel Chorus, ?Ian Knauer, Michelle Smith & Peter Yardley-Jones.
    • Benjamin Till: The Pepys Motet.
    • Hind Style Records (2016).
    • 7.
  • Tippett

    Praeludium for brass, bells and percussion

    Performer: English Northern Philharmonia.
    • Tippett: Ritual Dances.
    • Nimbus (1990).
    • 10.
  • Martin Suckling

    Meditation (after Donne)

    Performer: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Nicolas Altstaedt.
    • NFI.
    • NFI.
    • NFI.

Readings

Title: The Nine TailorsAuthor: Dorothy L SayersPublished by: Hodder & Stoughton (2016)
Title: It is the Sinners Dust Tongued BellFound in: The Map of LoveAuthor: Dylan ThomasPublished by: J. M. Dent and Sons (1939)
Title: Bring Back the BellsAuthor: AP HerbertPublished by: Methuen (1941)
Title: Church Bells ring the soundtrack of BritainAuthor: AN WilsonPublished by: The Independent (2012)
Title: Passing-BellsFound in Collected PoemsAuthor: Carol Ann DuffyPublished by Picador (2015)

Broadcasts