Bells and Bell-ringers

18 mayo 2009

A little selection of bell strokes

Last September 13th Os chichisos invited to a bell-stroking day at the parish of A Insua, in the council of Ponte Caldelas, in the interior of the province of Pontevedra. [GOOMAPS-09]

As it was very appetizing, there we went, carrying with us all of our field-recording machinary, willing to record anything that would happend there.

That day, lots of bell strokes were done. Among others, there were bell-ringers from the parishes of Taboadelo, Arcade, Augasantas, and of course, the hostess, A Ínsua. [LAGO-08] [GONZALEZ-08]

Here, we present a little selection of all of the strokes that we could hear that day. They are organized by the kind of stroke they are. This way, differences on the chime from one parish to another can easily be noticed.


1.Procession stroke

This is the stroke used during the processions.

In this audio, we hear this chime as it’s used on the parish of A Insua:

2.Anxos’ stroke

In this recording we hear the anxos’ stroke as it’s played on the parish of A Insua:

3.Animas’ stroke

Ánimas’ stroke was the last one to be played on the day, between 8 and 9 on the night. It was used to show that it was being time to stop working and retreat to dinner. The stroke advise for a pray dedicated to the soul of all of the parish’s deceased[Xabier-02]

Here it’s as its done on the church of A Insua:

4.Defuntos’ strokes

Those are the ones that are used when some of the residents of the parish die. There are different strokes depending on the genre and age of the person deceased.

4.a.Anxeliño’s stroke

An anxeliño was a boy or a girl that died before they get their first Holy Communion (about 7 years old). The stroke in this case was different, given the short age of the defuncts.

Here you could hear the stroke, as it’s played at the pafish of A Insua:

4.b.Dead Man’s stroke

This is the stroke used when the one deceased its a man. This type of stroke is still in use today with lots of variations.

Here it’s the version used at the parish of A Insua:

This other shoot is from the stroke used ath the parish of Augasantas:

This other shoot, its from the one at the parish of Arcade

4.c.Women’s difuntos’ strokes

when the difunct it’s a woman, the strike is different, as can be heard on the following shoots:

This is the difuntos’ stroke for a woman, as is done on the parish of Augasantas:

This is the same stroke as before, but as is done at the parish of Arcade

Here’s another version of the same stroke, this time done by the bell-ringer of the parish of Taboadelo:

4.d.Difunct entering the church stroke

One special kind of difuncts chime is the one that is done when coffin is entering to the church, on a lying in state funeral.

In this shoot we hear clearly this stroke as is used on the parish of Arcade

In this other shoot, another variaton of the stroke, as used on the paris of A Insua:

And this other one, with the version of the stroke used at the parish of Augasanta:

Another variaton of this stroke, as played at the parish of San Pedro:

And finally, another variant of the stroke, played by the bell-ringer of the parish of Arcade:

5.Holly week strokes

Another element for wich there’s a lot of bell chimes is the Holly week period. At this phase of the christian liturgical calendar, there’s one bell chime assigned to each day of the week, and special variations on the usual day-driven strokes, only played during holly week.

05.a.Maundy Thursday stroke

This was the stroke played to announce the services of the Thursday. All kind of bell-rings were suspended after this one and until Easter Saturday. No bells could be used. At some cathedrals, they used for this period rattles instead of bells.

Here this stroke version as is done at the parish of A Insua:


05.b.Easter Saturday Stroke

After Maundy Thursday stroke, the bell’s clapper was tied until Easter Stroke. This way, bells could not sound in an (un)deliberate way.

At this shoot we hear the Easter Saturday stroke as was played at the parish of A Insua:


05.c.Easter Sunday stokes

Holly week’s sunday it’s one of the most important dates on the christian calendar. This fact is reflected on the bell stokes that are specially played that day. Bells were played up to 3 times (calls), in order that no one could loose church offices that day.

Here it’s a shoot of the stroke of the first call to the offices, as they do it on the parish of A Insua:

This is the second call stroke on that same parish:

And finally, this is the third call stroke, that was played a little before the big mass in the Easter Sunday:


6.Church services’ strokes

One of the main functions of a chuch bells was call for the services. Mainly at the sunday ones. Each parish had its own strokes for the services, so people could know was its parish the one calling.

At this shoot we can hear this dtroke as is done sundays at the parish of A Insua:

At this other shoot, we hear the same stroke as is done in Augasantas:

Compare with this other one, from Benavente, a parish from outside Galician country (about 350 Km. to the east from the place where the Bell-stroke day was organized[GGOOMAPS-09-ii]):


7.Pealing Strokes

This kind of strokes were used in multiple situations. It was the stoke played when there was somehow a dangerous situation nearby, or when there was some notice to give to the parishioners. It was also used at festive sesions.

On this shoot we hear clearly the pealing stroke as is done at the parish of A Insua:

This other shoot is of the same stroke, but as is done at the parish of Augasantas

At this other recording, the bell-ringer from Taboadelo is the one that show us how this stroke is done at its parish:


8.Prayer calling strokes

In the old times, it was usuall to stop working at certain moments of the day, and do some praying. At some parish, this moments were noted using a special kind of strokes, called Prayer-calling stroke. At the end, this strokes were used by the parishioners to know what time of the day it was.

In this shoot we hear this stroke as it was used at the parish of A Insua:


9.Holy Communion stroke

At some parishes, at the holy communion on the service, bells ringed in a special way, calling this stroke, the holy communion stroke.

This is the holy communion stroke as it’s done on the parish of A ínsua:


10.Parish fiesta strokes

Some parishes were specially party-freakers. This parishes, had special strokes for the day of the Parish fiesta. Thoes were the fiesta-strokes, and they were only used on the days parish honours their saints.

In this shoot, we can hear the stroke that is used at the parish of Augasantas:


11.Bell ringers

All of the bell strokes here presented were not lost thanks to the work of many anonymous characters: the bell ringers. They passed their knowns from one to another, so all the richness in the bell-stroking world was not lost.

In this shoot we can hear the bell ringer at the parish of Insua, talking about their loved church bells:




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