A survey about using the chimes with organ.
  • https://form.jotform.com/60516457744965

    Appreciate response from organists.

    Thank you.
  • The Sacred Congregation of Rites gave notice May 18, 1917, that the use of tubular chimes in conjunction with the organ is forbidden during liturgical services (no. 4344). I supposed anything is allowed nowadays in the name of inculturation, but organ chimes are in the same category with handbells, guitars, pianos, drums, and cymbals as far as papal legislation is concerned.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Is there even any current legislation dealing with chimes? So many places have digital chimes these days. I only have a zymbelstern, no chimes.
  • henry
    Posts: 208
    I use them during the Elevation when there's no altar boy present.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    I would use real organ chimes at times if I had them. I, personally, would not use the amplified bar type or the digital ones.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    I tried your idea of shaking the altar boy during the elevation. It only works when the server has a rich mixture of change in his pocket.

    If there is no altar boy at my church, everyone actively participates by shaking their keys.
  • We have a small pipe organ that, surprisingly, does have chimes. I use them sparingly, mainly Christmas, Easter, and other big feasts.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,260
    chimes seems tacky to me. jmho
  • ...seems tacky to me.

    Oh, soooo tacky. Tastelessly maudlin.
    I thought that only Methodists used them.

    It's interesting, the papal legislation quoted above. Italian organs at that time were routinely kitted out with drums and cymbals. In fact, if one heard the sort of organ music which was commonplace in Italian churches in the XIXth century until too recent times to contemplate, he would scarcely believe that he was not at a circus, but in a church.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    I must, with little humility, disagree with two of our most august contributors.

    I have it on the highest authority (me, not Oprah) that the old covenant "Use organ chimes, go to jail", has been abrogated. They can be used tastefully, but only if they are used tastefully. Of course, incarceration still awaits those who use the dreaded fakes.

    I cite the following: there was a time when the use, study or playing of the accordion
    caused one to become a pariah. Now the accordion is no more shocking than a glimpse of stocking. And don't get me started about the ukelele!

    On a related topic, Oprah and I are still deliberating about whether the organist who modulates (however cleverly) between verses of hymn may enter the kingdom of heaven with the really, really small camels.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Madorganist, I don’t disagree with the legislation, but our organist had chimes which he accidentally used for the Pie Iesu in the Fauré Requiem which was sung as the elevation motet. And it was fabulous, if incorrect. I forget the original reason why he had played them though.

    Henry, that would also seem to be more of the theater than of the church, along the lines of gongs, cymbals, etc. which the SCR banned (though I have seen a hammered percussion instrument which was clearly used for that purpose: I just shook my head) and even if it is not banned now in the Ordinary Form I would shy away.
  • I don't use the digital ones on mine because I think they sound hideous.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Now the accordion is no more shocking than a glimpse of stocking.
    Hmmm. Sez who?
    Er, where is this?
    You, um, won't hear them at Walsingham!
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Re the accordion and ukelele, I was referring to the great wasteland of society in general, not the sacred environs of our modern Catholic churches.
  • Glad to hear it!
  • ...but only if they are used tastefully.

    Uhmm, could you state just how one can use something which is objectively tasteless tastefully? This should be interesting!
    It seems to me, only 'seems', mind you, that this would be akin to making a silk purse out of a sow's ear - a categorical wild goose chase. (I'm sure that Aquinas could put it better than I.)
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Perhaps I should have written in puce. I agree that chimes (and again I mean real tubular bells as part of a real organ) are not tremendously useful. However, I hesitate to say that any stop can never be useful. I hope our taste is not overly narrowed by academia.

    Any sound that we produce, on any instrument, may be used tastelessly. The most ravishing, vocal, polyphonic 8' principal could be misused. By the same token, a poor stop may find its rare, valuable use in some unexpected context.

    Of course, this argument does not apply to the ukelele. (Color me purple, uke fans.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,260
    it's not academia... it's what is appropriate to liturgical (sacred) music, and chimes ain't it!
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    On a related topic, Oprah and I are still deliberating about whether the organist who modulates (however cleverly) between verses of hymn may enter the kingdom of heaven with the really, really small camels.


    The first rule of hymn accompaniment is:
    1.) Hymns are for the congregation to sing. They are not showpieces for the organ.

    The second rule is:
    2.) Do nothing that throws the congregation off and inhibits their singing.

    Otherwise, why bother.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    You, um, won't hear them at Walsingham!


    Everyone knows by now that Walsingham panties are much tighter than those found in the general population.

    As I mentioned, I don't have chimes. I throw on the zymbelstern for the Easter Vigil Gloria which joins the altar and the tower bells in proclaiming the resurrection.

    It's interesting, the papal legislation quoted above. Italian organs at that time were routinely kitted out with drums and cymbals.


    Not to mention Baroque organs with bird whistles and bagpipes. Builders of every age have included novelties in organs. It was not because there was any real liturgical need for them. They built them because they could.

  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Chimes seem hopelessly tacky to me, and thankfully, I've never heard them liturgically.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    The only place I have heard chimes in a Catholic parish was to intone the hour before the mass began. Our place has tower bells that do that.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Here are two alternate rules for accompanying congregational singing:

    1. Lead! with accurate, exciting rhythm.

    2. Do nothing that bores, and everything that inspires.

    And a bonus third rule:

    3. Play with a well formed musical conscience - this will take care of most taste issues.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    it's not academia... it's what is appropriate to liturgical (sacred) music, and chimes ain't it!


    Yes, that may be true for some. But for many others, they only do what was acceptable when they were in school or what is acceptable to the musical circle which they inhabit.
    This is what I call having a poorly formed musical conscience.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    I wonder how many chime opponents have hand bell choirs? I have never understood the fascination some have with those things.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Here are two alternate rules for accompanying congregational singing:

    1. Lead! with accurate, exciting rhythm.

    2. Do nothing that bores, and everything that inspires.

    And a bonus third rule:

    3. Play with a well formed musical conscience - this will take care of most taste issues.


    1. All hymns do not have exciting rhythms and aren't meant to have.

    2. Bore? Boring isn't good, but neither is getting into the entertainment mentality. Haven't we all seen far too much of that?

    3. Always good advice.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    OK, CharlesW, I believe we are reading from different paragraphs on the same page.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Handbells choirs are the synchronized swimming of music.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • The original purpose of handbells was to practice change ringing without disturbing the whole town with the tower bells. I'm sure that some 'bright' fellow at Schulmerich or elsewhere was zapped one day with the realisation that they could make a fortune by peddling them to as many churches as would fall for it for 'hand bell choirs'.

    Actually, I have heard some (meaning very few) instances of their use which was positive and seemed artfully legitimate. Some really good (and rare) compositions call for them. Most of the time, though, they are just a cute way for people to be entertained by their children or grandmothers in the 'bell choir', which should never, ever, perform as a solo ensemble.
    Thanked by 1Steve Collins
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Notice that I said "handbells choirs" not just handbells. Handbells are useful in many contexts, both in and out of liturgy. At these times, they are playable by any musician.

    The Petit and Fritsen type are best as they imitate the change ringing tone which MJO refers to. The Schulmerich type are tuned for melody and harmony playing and are usually less musically satisfying, largely because of what one is tempted or coerced into playing on them.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    I was once in a university hand bell choir and could clang and thump with the best of them. LOL. The bells were fine for school and secular concerts. I just never found them appropriate for use for mass. For a social or devotional gathering, they are probably fine. Like many things, it is the context that determines.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,079
    In defense of handbells, I use them liturgically several times a year. They accompany a chanted Gloria on Holy Thursday and intone the Gloria at the Easter Vigil. I have used them at Vespers in both EF and OF forms. I use them for intonations outside of Lent and have used them with all the Marian antiphons.

    I would take some offense at MJO's assertion and support MBW that there are tasteful and possible uses for them. Context,context.....
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,606
    I once worked at a parish that was trying to right-the-ship of the liturgy and had an established, and quite good, handbell choir. Since they were trying to move things in the right direction and many (most?) supported the pastor in this goal, but since the group was established the bells were paid for, we simply used them outdoors. During festive seasons and some solemnities, the handbell choir would play before and after Mass outside the doors of the church. It allowed the group to stay together, people got to hear the bells they paid for, and in general it was a festive thing people heard as they came and left church. It didn't really add anything for most people, I would assume, but perhaps it supported greater liturgical awareness as when people would arrive and see/hear handbells as they walked in from the parking lot, they knew it was a festive day.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,866
    Does anyone find starting pitches on a gedeckt tacky, I wonder? I started using chimes to intone a pitch for a cappella chants like the Easter Vigil psalms and Ubi Caritas and repeated it when it seemed to me that the congregation might not know when to come back in. Now I'm more inclined to trust them; for Lenten Responsorial Psalms we're using The Parish Book of Psalms right now and a tuning fork for the cantor and a subtle rit. at the verse termination does a fine job.

    We have a venerable if not immemorial tradition of chimed alleluias for Regina caeli, and when eager children happen to be available I'm quite happy to cue their handbells. Substituting last week for a bell choir director gave me a salutary Lenten shiver, though.
    Thanked by 2MBW CHGiffen
  • I would find a gedeckt far less tacky than chimes for giving pitches for anything. In fact, I find giving a mere note or chord for pitches to be sort of a musically senseless insertion into the goings on. For a capella anthems and motets, it is far better to improvise a short 'praeludium' in the style and key, or write one out, or use the opening portion. For chant, I like to give just the notes of the incipit or the first few notes, ending back on the first note. Of course, a short praeludium would be better here, too. If a choir piece follows some other music or chant, I train my choirs to get their pitches from the last note thereof - unless I do a short praeludium to introduce it and give the tonality. If a motet or such follows a chant (such as might happen at the offertory or communion) it is quite nice to sing the chant on a pitch that sounds euphonious with the key of the motet, so that there is some semblance of tonal complementarity and flow. Ditto if it is a chant that follows some other music. When at all possible I avoid merely sounding out pitches and chords - most unforgivable are broken chords. Of course, when giving father a note for something he is to sing, it's best to give just one note!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,866
    I would find a gedeckt far less tacky
    ...than a pitch pipe? ;-)
    ...ending back on the first note.
    Now you're raising my tacky hackles!
  • ...than a...

    Well, I don't know. Probably.
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Given the age of some of my singers, I feel like saying, "let those with eyes see, and those with ears hear," rather than giving pitches. Unfortunately, I can't get away from pitches on pieces that either have no introduction, or where one will not work well with the music. I have threatened to use a trumpet stop for giving bass pitches. They might hear those.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    In a past life, I used single handbells during Lent to give the pitch and to signal repeats of the antiphon for the Entrance Chant which, at the time, I was taking from By Flowing Waters. I loved that effect, especially the change from strophic hymns which we used the rest of the year. I'd like to do that again, but I don't have handbells now. I don't think I would like chimes for that purpose and prefer hummed pitch (gathered from a tuning fork) or the soft flute, in that order.

    I also like to improvise into the tonality of an unaccompanied motet. Sometimes I try to match the affect of the motet, sometimes I create a contrast.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    At a practical level, most of us use what we have as best we can. If you don't have hand bells but have chimes, then chimes it is. If you have neither, but have a pitch pipe, then use the pitch pipe.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    I've also seen handbells used effectively to simulate the ringing of church bells on Holy Thursday and Easter Vigil in a church that had no bells in the tower.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    I think Noel starts these surveys to generate discussion. I am not sure the information gained is of any consequence, which I believe he well knows. LOL.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,445
    My predecessor used them almost all the time: on practically every other hymn. I use them once a year, at Midnight, to play the "Westminster Chime" and strike 12. That's it.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,260
    I'd use them on holy thurs and vigil if I had them, but then there would be an expectation to use them all year long
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    I have been in churches that had good sets of chimes. They seemed out of tune with the organ two seasons of the year.
  • Actually...I'm almost always evaluating different segments of the market to gauge the amount of interest before embarking on a project or, as it is in this case, to determine which niches within the market deserve either time or money spent promoting a product.

    The 8 books of pieces for Organ & Carillon, Chimes or Handbell Choir.

    The music is very simple on purpose, as much organ music for organ and chimes is beyond the grasp of many players who find it difficult to deal with organ music in three staves.

    Hopefully, these piece may give them the enthusiasm to undertake harder pieces that feature bell sounds.

    Of the three groups surveyed, this group, was totally true to form. The other two groups - an email discussion of organists and the other a Facebook group of organists were quite surprising.

    I learn a lot from surveys, and thank you for your response.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen MBW
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    won't hear them at Walsingham!

    I think it is time for western rite catholics to start our own saying:

    Was it ___ at Walsingham? Was not! ...
  • Was it...

    Ha!, Eft - I had had that very thought!
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • TCJ
    Posts: 637
    I believe I've used chimes once, but that was a long time ago on a nice little pipe organ that had an excellent set of chimes. I really didn't find much use for them, however. The digital organ I play now has, in my opinion, awful chimes so I'm not even tempted to try them.
  • Argh. Western is not English. Roman is not English. Latin rite is not English. Just ask the Anglicans.
    One can admire the Anglican choral tradition without forgetting the continent and the rest of the west. England is one beautiful island- a small part of Catholicism in the west.
  • ? !