Presbyterian tower bells still ring after sixty years

Even after sixty years, the 82 members of Tyrone Presbyterian Church still fondly remember the Character, Construction, and Call of their Schulmerich Carillon Bells as they hear them peal beloved melodies at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. each day from The Church Tower.
Presbyterians installed their First Tower Carillon sixty years ago in 1947, accompanied by a plaque in The Sanctuary Vestibule which eloquently captured the Character of these bells: “To add Melody to Life and bring Music to The Souls Of Men, we dedicate this Tower Carillon.” In those long ago days, just after The Close Of World War II, Lillian Garman’s Speer Bible Class provided the leadership needed to raise the resources for Presbyterians to acquire their First Schulmerich Tower Carillon.
With encouragement and guidance from The Speer Bible Class, local Presbyterians commissioned The Schulmerich Bell Company of Sellersville, Pennsylvania for Construction of this First Tower Carillon in 1947, at a cost of $3,500. This instrument consisted of twenty-six miniature bells, housed in a Metal Cabinet, located in The Communion Room, to the left of The Church Altar. With Tube Technology, The Schulmerich Company miraculously magnified the sound of these miniature bells from this Metal Cabinet, through electronic cable, and broadcast them from The Church Tower all across The Town. The 1947 Schulmerich Carillon required that a musician “play” the bells from a miniature keyboard, located adjacent to The Presbyterian Moller Pipe Organ Console. Presbyterians found their keyboard musician in Church Secretary Faye Dickson Gates. Each weekday just before noon, Mrs. Gates played A Brief Bell Recital on The Presbyterian Carillon, before The Paper Mill Whistle sounded for The Lunch Hour. Faithfully, Mrs. Gates performed her daily duties at The Presbyterian Tower Carillon from 1947, until her untimely death in 1963.
In May Of 1991, Tyrone Presbyterians installed their Second Tower Carillon. Once again, Construction of this Second Tower Carillon was accomplished by The Schulmerich Company of Sellersville, Pennsylvania, at a total cost of $13,000. With Digital Technology, this Carillon also magnified the sounds of twenty-six miniature bells from A Clock Cabinet in The Communion Room, through cable, to The Church Tower. Thanks to the miracle of Digital Technology, this Second Carillon could sound under the fingers of a keyboard musician OR The Digital Cabinet Clock would allow it to play automatically each day at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. , using cassette tapes. For several years after The Second Carillon Installation, these Six Presbyterian Keyboard Musicians faithfully shared their skills to offer Live Bell Music to Tyrone each day at 11:45 a.m. — Margaret Baldridge, Frances Jones, Edna Lake, Adelaide Langenbacher, Mardell Fink, and Betty Woomer. These days, The Schulmerich Tower Carillon uses cassette tapes automatically to play each day at Noon and at Eventide.
Especially as they celebrate The 150th Anniversary Of First Presbyterian Church in The Year 2007, the 82 church members reflect on The Call Of their Tower Carillon. For the past sixty years, when The Carillon pealed at 11:30 and 6:30, Tyrone Presbyterians intended that their Tower Bells would call people to Repentance and Remembrance. They hoped that folks who each day heard the melody and music of The Presbyterian Bells would repent of “hurtful behavior” and also remember those people “standing in the need of prayer.” Thankfully, many people who have heard the bells have responded in repentance and remembrance.
Even now, as The Church embarks on its 150th Year, The Tower Bells peal their blessing of music twice daily to those with ears to listen. This Past Winter, one young couple living on Logan Avenue indicated that they began to attend Tyrone Presbyterian Church because of The Mission And Music Of The Schulmerich Bells. Last Spring, a faithful church member gave a gift to purchase a new one hundred dollar cassette bell tape of Beloved Gospel Hymns that could play on The Tower Carillon in memory of a Presbyterian who highly valued The Bells — The Late Paul Bressler. Thanks to the generosity of many folks across Tyrone, The Presbyterian Church has acquired a varied repertoire of Bell Cassettes, ranging from Rodgers and Hammerstein Melodies, to Beatle Tunes, to African-American Spirituals, along with the standard Gospel Melodies.
Even sixty years later in Lent 2007, The Presbyterian Bells continue “singing, ringing on their way, as The World revolves from Night to Day.” Presbyterians hope that those Tyrone Citizens who hear the bells these days will find their Spiritual Night turned to Day as they recall those lyrics so often sung by Presbyterian Interim Pastor Norman Huff — “Ring The Bells, Ring The Bells / Let The Whole World know / Christ was born in Bethlehem / Many years ago / Ring The Bells, Ring The Bells / Let The Whole World Know / Christ The Savior lives today / As He did so long ago!”