(פִּעֲמוֹן, paamon', something struck; Sept. ῥοϊvσκος; Vulg. tintinnabulum; Ex 28:33-34; Ex 39:25-26; also מֵצַלָּה, metsillah', tinkling; Sept. χαλίνος; Zec 14:20).
I. The first bells known in history are those small golden bells which were attached to the lower part of the blue robe (the robe of the ephod) which formed part of the dress of the high-priest in his sacerdotal ministrations (Ex 28:33-34; comp. Ecclus. 45, 11). They were there placed alternately with the pomegranate-shaped knobs, one of these being between every two of the bells. The number of these bells is not mentioned in Scripture; but tradition states that there were sixty-six (Clem. Alex. Stromata, p. 563), or, according to the Jews, seventy-two (Jarchi, in loc.) We need not seek any other reason for this rather singular use of bells than that which is assigned: "His sound shall be heard when he goeth into the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not" (Ex 28:35); by which we may understand that the sound of the bells manifested that he was properly arrayed in the robes of ceremony which he was required to wear when he entered the presence-chamber of the Great King; and that as no minister can enter the presence of an earthly potentate abruptly and unannounced, so he (whom no human being could introduce) was to have his entrance harbingered by the sound of the bells he wore. This sound, heard outside, also notified to the people the time in which he was engaged in his sacred ministrations, and during which they remained in prayer (Lu 1:9-10). No doubt they answered the same purpose as the bells used by the Brahmins in the Hindoo ceremonies, and by the Roman Catholics during the celebration of mass (comp. Lu 1:21). To this (lay bells are frequently attached, for the sake of their pleasant sound, to the anklets of women. SEE ANKLET. The little girls of Cairo wear strings of them round their feet (Lane, Mod. Egypt. 2, 370), and at Koojar Mungo Park saw a dance "in which many performers assisted, all of whom were provided with little bells fastened to their. legs and arms." "BELLS OF THE HORSES" are mentioned in Zec 14:20, and may have been such as were attached to the bridles or foreheads, or to belts around the necks of horses trained for war, that they might thereby be accustomed to noise and tumult, and not by their alarm expose the riders to danger in actual warfare. Hence a person who had not been tried or trained up to any thing was by the Greeks called ἀκωδώνιστος, "one not used to the noise of a bell," by a metaphor taken from horses. The mules employed in the funeral pomp of Alexander had at each jaw a golden bell. It does not appear, however, that this was a use of horse-bells with which the Jews were familiar. The Hebr. word is almost the same as מצַלתִּיַם, metsiltayim, "a pair of cymbals;" and as they are supposed to be inscribed with the words "Holiness unto the Lord," it is more probable that they are not bells, but "concave or flat pieces of brass, which were sometimes attached to horses for the sake of ornament" (Jahn, Bibl. Arch. § 96). Indeed, they were probably the same as the שִׂהֲרֹנַים, saharonim', "ornaments;" Sept. μηνίσκοι (Isa 3:18; Jg 8:21), lunulae of gold, silver, or brass used as ornaments, and hung by the Arabians round the necks of their camels, as we still see them in England on the harness of horses. They were not only ornamental, but useful, as their tinkling tended to enliven the animals; and in the caravans they thus served the purpose of our modern sheep-bells. The laden animals, being without riders, have bells hung from their necks, that they may be kept together in traversing by night the open plains and deserts, by paths and roads unconfined by fences and boundaries, that they may be cheered by the sound of the bells, and that, if any horse strays, its place may be known by the sound of its bell, while the general sound from the caravan enables the traveler who has strayed or lingered to find and regain his party, even in the night (Rosenmuller, Morgenl. 4, 441). That the same motto, Holiness to the Lord, which was upon the mitre of the highpriest, should, in the happy days foretold by the prophet, be inscribed even upon the bells of the horses, manifestly signifies that all things, from the highest to the lowest, should in those days be sanctified to God (Hackett's Illustra. of Script. p. 77). SEE BRIDLE.
It is remarkable that there is no appearance of bells of any kind on the Egyptian monuments. Quite a number of bronze bells, with iron tongues, were discovered, however, among the Assyrian ruins in a caldron at Nimroud by Mr. Layard, and are now in the British Museum. They vary in size from about 2 to 3 inches in height, and 1 to 2 inches in diameter, and in shape do not differ materially from those now in use among us (see Layard's Babylon and Nineveh, p. 150).
II. Bells were not introduced into the Christian Church till a comparatively late period. Several inventions were common before the introduction of bells. In Egypt they seem to have used trumpets, in imitation of the Jews; and the same custom prevailed in Palestine in the sixth century. In some monasteries they took the office by turns of going about to every one's cell, and calling the monks to their devotions by the sound of a hammer: this instrument was called the night signal and awakening instrument. Paulinus, the bishop of Nola, in Campania, who died A.D. 431, is usually regarded as the inventor of bells; and hence the terms nola and campana are supposed to be derived. There is reason, however, to believe that this is a mistake, as it is remarkable that no mention of bells is made in his epistles, in his poems, or in the account of his life, which was compiled from his own works and the panegyrics of his contemporaries. The word campana is probably derived from ces Campanum, mentioned by Pliny, the metal preferred for bells. The use of bells was not known in the Eastern Church till the year 865, when Ursus Patrisiacus made a present of some to Michael, the Greek emperor, who first built a tower in the church of Sancta Sophia in which to hang them. It is generally thought that Sabinianus, who succeeded Gregory the Great in 604, introduced them into the Latin Church, and applied them to ecclesiastical purposes. Baronius speaks of the use of the, Tintinnabula in the earliest ages of the Church (Ann. A.D. 58 and 64), and Giraldus Cambrensis says that portable bells were used in England in the time of SS. Germanus and Lupus, i.e. about 430. From all which it appears that small portable bells were in use in the Church in very ancient times, and that the large church-bells were not introduced until a later period. Certain it is, however, that there were bells in the church of St. Stephen, at Sens, in 610, the ringing of which frightened away the besieging army of King Clothaire II, which knew not what they were. Yet Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History (lib. 4, c. 23), about 670, says, "audivit subito in aere notum campanae sonum quo ad orationes excitari solebant." A form of speaking which would imply that they were at that period in general use; and Stavely refers to Spelman's Concil. tom. 1, fol. 62, 64, where it is stated that Oudoceus, bishop, or archbishop, of Llandaff, about A.D. 550, took down the bells and crosses of his church as part of a sentence of excommunication. Ingulphus relates how Turketul, abbot of Croyland, who died about 870, gave one notable great bell to the abbey- church, which he called Guthlac, and afterward abbot Egelric gave six more, named Bartholomew, Bettelmus, Terketul, Tatwyn, Pega, and Bega; and he adds, "Non erat tune tanta consonantia campanarum in tota Anglia." (See Maitland, Dark Ages, p. 251.) Proofs exist that bells were common in France as early as the Seventh and eighth centuries. During the reign of Charlemagne they became common in France and Germany. Bells were first hung in towers separate from the church (campanili); later, the tower was joined to the church. In Italy, Greece, the Ionian Isles, and Sweden, the towers are yet usually separate. As early as the eighth century bells were dedicated with religious ceremonies very similar to those used in baptism. They were sprinkled with holy water; exorcism was spoken over them, to free them from the power of evil spirits; a name was given them (as early as the tenth century); a blessing was pronounced; and they were anointed. Later, their ringing was supposed to drive away evil spirits, pestilence, and thunder-storms. Being thus made objects of religious faith and affection, they were ornamented in the highest style of the sculptor's art with scenes from the Bible and other religious subjects. The largest bells are the one at Moscow, 488,000 lbs.; at Toulouse, 66,000 lbs.; at Vienna, 40,000 lbs.; Paris, 38,000 lbs.; Westminster Abbey, 37000 lbs. The usual composition of bells is four parts of copper and one of tin. The proportions are sometimes varied, and bismuth and zinc added. Legends of large parts of silver in certain bells, as at Rouen, have been found by chemical analysis to be fabulous. Strength of tone in bells depends upon the weight of metal, depth of tone upon the shape. By varying these chimes are produced. (See Thiers, Des Cloches [Paris]; Harzen, Die Glockengiesserei [Weimar, 1854]; Otto, Glockenkunde [Leipzig, 1857]; Chrysander, Historische Nachrichten von Kirchenglocken.)
The BLESSING OF BELLS in the Romish Church is a most extraordinary piece of superstition. They are said to be consecrated to God, that he may bestow upon them the power, not of striking the ear only, but also of touching the heart. When a bell is to be blessed, it is hung up in a place where there is room to walk round it. Beforehand, a holy-water pot, another for salt, napkins, a vessel of oil, incense, myrrh, cotton, a basin and ewer, and a crumb of bread, are prepared. There is then a procession from the vestry, and the officiating priest, having seated himself near the bell, instructs the people in the holiness of the action he is going to perform, and then sings the Miserere. Next, he blesses some salt and water, and offers a prayer that the bell may acquire the virtue of guarding Christians from the stratagems of Satan, of breaking the force of tempests, and raising devotion in the heart, etc. He then mixes salt and water, and, crossing the bells thrice, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, pronounces over each, "God be with you." This being done, he dips the aspergillum, or sprinkler, in the holy water, and with it washes the bell; during this ablution psalms are sung. After this, a vessel, containing what they call oil for the infirm, is opened by the dean, into which the officiating priest dips the thumb of his right hand, and applies it to the middle of the bell, signing it with the sign of the cross. The twenty-eighth psalm being then sung, the bell is marked with seven other crosses, during which the priest honors the bell with a sort of baptism, consecrating it in the name of the Trinity, and naming some particular saint, who stands godfather to the bell, and from that time it bears his name. It is then perfumed with incense and myrrh, which, in a prayer used on the occasion, is called the dew of the Holy Ghost. For the full forms, see Migne, Liturgie Catholique, p. 368; Boissonnet, Dict. des Ceremonies, 1, 886. The practice of consecrating and baptizing bells is a modern invention. Baronius refers the origin to the time of John 13, A.D. 968, who consecrated the great bell of the Lateran Church, and gave it the name of John. The practice, however, appears to have prevailed at an earlier period; for in the capitulars of Charles the Great it is censured and prohibited. The rituals of the Romanists tell us that the consecration of bells is designed to represent that of pastors; that the ablution, followed by unction. expresses the sanctification acquired by baptism; the seven crosses show that pastors should exceed the rest of Christians in the graces of the Holy Ghost; and that as the smoke of the perfume rises in the bell, and fills it, so a pastor, adorned with the fullness of God's spirit, receives the perfume of the vows and prayers of the faithful.
The TOLLING of bells at funerals is an old practice. It was a superstitious notion that evil spirits were hovering round to make a prey of departing souls, and that the tolling of bells struck them with terror. In the Council of Cologne it is said, "Let bells be blessed, as the trumpets of the church militant, by which the people are assembled to hear the word of God, the clergy to announce his mercy by day, and his truth in their nocturnal vigils; that by their sound the faithful may be invited to prayers, and that the spirit of devotion in them may be increased." The fathers have also maintained that daemons, affrighted by the sound of bells calling Christians to prayer, would flee away, and when they fled the persons of the faithful would be secure; that the destruction of lightnings and whirlwinds would be averted, and the spirits of the storm defeated. Durand says, in his Rationale of the Roman Church, "that for expiring persons bells must be tolled, that people may put up their prayers. This must be done twice for a woman and thrice for a man; for an ecclesiastic as many times as he had orders; and at the conclusion a peal of all the bells must be given, to distinguish the quality of the persons for whom the people are to offer up their prayers." The uses of bells, according to the Romish idea, are summed up in the following distich, often inscribed on bells:
"Laudo Deum verum; plebem voco; congrego cle' um; Defunctos ploro; pestem fugo; festaqua honoro."
"I praise the true God; I call the people; I assemble the clergy; I lament the dead; I drive away infection; I honor the festivals." The following are the names, kinds, and offices of bells used in churches and "religious houses:"
1. Squilla or scilla, a little bell hung in the refectory, near the abbot's seat, which he rang to signify the end of the repast. It was also used to procure silence when there was too much noise.
2. Cymbalum, used in the cloister.
3. Nola, in the choir.
4. Campana, in the Campanile (q.v.); perhaps used when there was only one church-bell.
5. Signum, in the church-tower. The Campana sancta, vulgarly called in the country the "Sance-bell," was runs when the priest said the Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Matthew Paris says that it was forbidden to ring the bells during a period of mourning; and the Church of Rome retains to this day the custom of not suffering the bells to sound during the period from Good Friday to Easter Day. For an amusing paper on "Bells," see Southey's Doctor, vol. 1, Bergier, s.v. "Cloche;" Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. 8, ch. 7, § 15; Martene, De Ant. Eccles. Ritibus, t. 2; Landon, Eccles. Dictionary, s.v. "Bells;" Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 13, § 9; Quarterly Review (Lond.), Oct. 1854, art. 2.