Phillip Sear plays an 1891 piano transcription (in the form of a short set of variations) by Charles Lee Williams of a chime written by Stephen Jeffries, organist of Gloucester Cathedral 1680-1712.
Imitations of church bells were common in late Victorian British salon music, but this is an altogether more serious undertaking. For centuries, Gloucester Cathedral (in England) has had a set of chimes (tunes played on the cathedral bells by an automated chime machine). In 1891 there were four tunes, played by a machine built in 1764 and in use as recently as 1974. Charles Lee Williams was at that time Cathedral organist, and decided to make piano transcriptions of them. This one is set as a series of short variations, starting in early-Baroque style, but concluding (startlingly) in a bravura variation in the style of Mendelssohn. Lee Williams’s successor as organist, Herbert Brewer, subsequently arranged Williams’ transcriptions for organ. You can hear all four of the chimes – played on bells in Charlotte, North Carolina – here: . And if you would like to hear the Jeffries chime at Gloucester Cathedral, you can hear it every Tuesday at 9.00am, 1.00pm and 5.00pm. The four chimes transcribed by Lee Williams have been joined by three others, two of which were used in mediaeval times. Further details here:
———————————————————————————————– Played by Phillip Sear
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Beautiful clock and bell tower chimes . Christ Church, Hampstead. 12 o’clock
Dr. Tim Diebel and Organist Carl Staplin of First Christian Church in Des Moines, Iowa describe the experience of renovating their 30-Bell tower chime. This beautiful set of harmonically-tuned tubular bells were manufactured and installed by J. C. Deagan in 1937.
An attempt to bring the the First Christian Church chime into the modern age in the 1970s worked for awhile. The manufacturer of that system eventually admitted that it would never be reliable, that they didn’t have the technology to improve it, and eventually they ceased to support it.
After more than two decades silence, Chime Master has replaced the electric action with a technologically advanced pneumatic ringing system. Five factory technicians worked a week of overtime through the weekend preceding Christmas so that the church could enjoy the bells on Christmas Eve.
Details of the new system are provided on the Chime Master website:
Digital Electronic Carillons: