Why Learn to Ring?

There are many reasons, and different aspects appeal to different people.  For any reasonably active person it is a healthy and sociable activity that does not require any special ability, although it can take a long time to become proficient.  You can expect a friendly welcome when you put your head through the door of a ringing chamber on practice night wherever you are.  Some of those who learn are happy to master the basic skills so that they can ring the bells for Sunday service in their local church.  However, the majority of more advanced ringers see it as a secular activity and there is no need to attend services or belong to any particular faith.

No musical ability is required although plenty of ringers have musical interests.  The search for new sequences of changes can appeal to mathematicians, but lack of mathematical talent is not a problem.  You can prove your strength ringing a particularly heavy or difficult bell, but most can be rung without effort.  Some like to prove their endurance and concentration over many hours but that is definitely not a requirement.  Many ringers enjoy a pint of beer in the pub afterwards, others might prefer tea and cake on a Saturday afternoon, or just want to turn up and ring and go home afterwards.  Most of us like it when we achieve good rhythmical ringing on bells which are enjoyable to listen to, particularly when it marks a step forward for someone learning the art.

You can start to learn at virtually any age, although some extra thought would be needed before recommending it to those younger than nine, or those with certain disabilities or who find everyday activities difficult.  The ability to climb stairs will be needed at St Clement’s, but there are other places you could learn where the bells are rung from the ground floor.  Bell-ringing is an activity where accidents are possible but injuries are rare.  If you are properly taught and treat bells with respect there is no reason to feel unsafe.

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This CartoonChurch.com cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times.