For Whom the Bell Tolls

by M-Rebeiro

The ringing of a church bell to announce a death is called a death knell.

The bell has been a herald of death since ancient times. It has been used to either call attention to a soul’s passing into the next life or to frighten evil spirits away from a free soul.

The ringing of bells can occur in several distinct fashions. Normal ringing is one ring per second or faster and chiming is a single ring to mark a specific event. Tolling, the ring most associated with death, is a slow ringing with notes spaced out by several seconds. The slow pace, and low sound caused by the larger bells typically associated with tolling, helps broadcast a feeling of sadness.

The number of times a bell tolls varies by customs, but one custom is to ring once for each decade of the life of the deceased, pausing, and then ringing for the years in any unfinished decades. Sometimes the sex of the deceased was also rung out in bells, 3 chimes for male and 2 for female.

Read more:

Funeral Customs |

Funeral Toll | Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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