Carillonneur Report ~ 20151
Since 2005, the chiming of hymns from loudspeakers in our steeple has been controlled by a computerized system located in the choir room. This system is completely separate from the hourly chimes, which are rung by an actual bell controlled by a mechanical clock.
The program in the computer allows hymns to be played on a daily and seasonal schedule. The hymns are played from musical scores in the MIDI format that engage a soundfile of real bells sampled digitally throughout their range. The soundfile imitates a small set of bells that might be found in an old New England church.
Each hymn is listed by the tune name. Look in the upper right of each hymn in our hymnal and you will see the hymn tune name (for instance, HYFRYDOL 22.214.171.124. D for "Praise the Lord! Ye Heavens Adore Him" or MAXWELL 126.96.36.199. for our own "On the Wings of the Morning"). The numbers represent the metrical syllables of the text.
We have about 100 hymns loaded into the computer and rotate them alphabetically into two groups, A-L and M-Z, by hymn tune name. In special liturgical seasons, this rotation is overridden to play hymns that are appropriate for that season. There are also specially selected hymns suitable for the end of the day that are played after 6 p.m.
We also schedule music for special occasions.2 For the past few years we have been ringing "summertime" tunes for our Summer Fair and Christmas carols during the Sunday Stroll. We are also able to herald special events, as we did with our "Cabaret" fund-raiser a few years back and by playing tunes from "My Fair Lady" in the half hour before the Music Hall show in October honoring Elizabeth Taber.
Since we can add hymns to the schedule by creating new MIDI files, members of the congregation can suggest personal favorites (we can look up the hymn tune name if you only know the first line) or recommend special community events we might want to announce musically from our steeple.
Benjamin Dunham, Carillonneur; Fred Danhauser, Assistant Carillonneur
1Taken from the 2015 Annual Reports of The First Congregational Church of Marion, Massachusetts
2Most recently our carillon played hymns during the Veteran's Day "Bells of Remembrance" observation.