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Listen Up!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Left to right: A view from inside St. Michael’s bell tower; a several of the church’s change-ringing bells. Photographs (2) by Mac Kilduff

february 20, 2014

Listen Up!
This weekend, the Ring Around Charleston will flood the Holy City with beautiful sounds

written By Anna Evans

This Friday through Sunday, plan to linger around the Holy City’s four change-ringing churches—the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Grace Episcopal, St. Michael’s, and Stella Maris Roman Catholic—because the sounds pouring from their towers will be at their most beautiful.

 The Ring Around Charleston, held every other year since 1997, has attracted more than 80 people from across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to town for three days of change ringing. Developed in England around 1600, this art form involves a band of ringers using a set of massive bells (usually six to 10 of them) according to numerical changes called “methods.” Each bell is attached to a wheel that has a rope around its rim—pulling the rope rotates the bell full circle.

The weekend’s festivities allow ringers to combine their talents in skill-building practices, challenging performances called “quarter peals,” and church service ringing. And you can enjoy the musical rewards while simply strolling near any of the participating churches—just click here to find the schedule for ringing at each location. Stop outside Grace Episcopal, and you can actually see the ringers at work through the glass-fronted columbarium and bell tower, the bells moving above them.

To read more about change ringing in Charleston and watch videos filmed in local churches, click here.