Church bell

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bronze bell from the Baroque period (year of casting: 1694)
Modern bronze bell (year of casting: 2005)

The church bell is a large bell , usually hung in a church tower . It is the vibration carrier of the bell system, to which the bell machine and the bell cage also belong. The entire bell system is located in the bell chamber. The bell, which is usually made of bronze and rarely also of iron , has the shape of a body of revolution , that is, it has rotational symmetry around its central axis.

The carillon tower carillon , which consists of several bells, is a musical instrument that is played automatically or manually using a lever system .


Bells as a memorial: Marienkirche (Lübeck)

In addition to church towers, bells appear in clock towers on public buildings such as town halls and schools to indicate the time or as an alarm signal. Church bells ring for worship, also as a reminder or commemoration.

If several bells are connected to form a unit, it is referred to as a carillon or chime . If it can be played on a hand console and has at least 23 bells (two octaves ), it is called a carillon .


For the development of bells as magical carriers of meaning in cultic rituals from antiquity to their establishment in everyday life in medieval monasticism in Europe, see the main article Bell # Europe .

The first known sacred building that was hung with bells on the gable was a temple of Jupiter in Rome . The term bell was borrowed from the old Irish clocc 'bell, bell', while since the 4th century in the Gallo-Roman area the bell has been known under the Latin name sīgnum (from which African be , occ. Senh , bündrom. Sain (s) , zen ( n) s “church bell”) (cf. Caesarius von Arles , 470–542, and Gregor von Tours , d. 592). In the 6th century, Iroschott wandering monks spread their ornate bells in Christian worship in Europe , initially probably as handcuffs .

The first bells were mostly made of sheet iron and riveted by blacksmiths ; see. plus the booze as the oldest surviving bell in Germany from the 7th to 9th centuries. Some blacksmiths also make large and small bells - mostly from one piece - in an open fire.

Since the 9th century, church bells have mainly been made of bronze . In the 20th century many bells were cast from substitute alloys (e.g. cast steel ) as a result of the two world wars .

In the Middle Ages it became customary to place bells in small ridge turrets or in bell gables on monastery churches and later also on other places of worship. From the 10th and 11th centuries, tall towers were built to support the belfry . In steeples centuries were later also the mechanical works of the tower clock was added.

In modern times, the secular use of bells spread throughout Europe. They were placed on war memorials to commemorate dead soldiers, were placed on bell towers of the Nazi order castles during the Nazi era , but were later also reminders of the victims of fascism and against nuclear dangers such as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki . In the post-war era, the Friedland bell should also be mentioned. Another remarkable use: In 2006 the NPD youth organization wanted to hold a demonstration in Miltenberg on the market square next to the parish church of St. Jakobus . The then pastor Ulrich Boom let the bells ring for 20 minutes in protest. The second heaviest bell in the diocese of Würzburg was so loud that the rally had to be broken off after a short time. The campaign, for which Boom was awarded the Aschaffenburg Courage Prize , received national media attention.

Manufacture of bells

Preparation for the bell casting, from the bell core with rib stencil to the decorative clay layer with inscription Finished bell shape before digging in
Preparation for the bell casting, from the bell core with rib stencil to the decorative clay layer with inscription
Finished bell shape before digging in
Bell casting at Petit & Gebr. Edelbrock on September 5, 2008
Example: Bell casting in Ewattingen
Remove the cast build-up
Buried shape
Excavation with machine assistance
Mostly exposed form
Destroying the form
Removal of residues at the upper end
Knocked over
Removing the inside of the mold
Lifting the finished bell

Bells are mostly made by pouring them into a mold. A distinction must be made between clay, sand and cement molding processes. The cast material used has been called Glockenspeise since Middle High German times and is usually a tin bronze made of 76 to 80 percent copper and 20 to 24 percent tin. In earlier times it was common to cast large bells at the later place of use, as finished bells were difficult to transport, the raw material, on the other hand, was easier to transport in the form of bars . Today, in view of the better transport options, casting usually takes place at the foundry site.

Most foundries still use the traditional clay molding process , except for the casting of tiny bells. This procedure was developed in the 12th century and described by Friedrich Schiller in his famous song from the bell . It includes the following work steps:

  • The first and decisive step is the construction of the template for the bell rib : the bell caster draws the profile of the bell - half the cross-section of the bell body with its inner and outer contour - on a board. This essentially determines the tone and sound of the bell. First, the contour for the inside of the bell is cut out - the template for the inside of the bell is created.
  • Then the construction of the mold begins . A hollow bell core is built from clay bricks and the template is rotatably attached to an axis. In several steps, the core is coated with increasingly fine clay , which can be mixed with additives. The template is turned around the core, removing excess clay and creating a smooth surface. The shape for the inside of the bell is now ready and has to dry out. For this, the core is heated from the inside.
  • The next step is to shape the fake bell . It already has the shape of the bell to be cast, but is made of clay. The template is cut out along the outer contour line. A separating agent (tallow, fat, graphite) is first applied to the dried clay of the inner mold. On top of this is again put in several layers of fine clay, which in turn is peeled off with the template and smoothed until it has exactly the shape of the later bell. After the fake bell has dried, all wax decorations and writings are applied to it.
  • The outer part of the mold, the mantle, is made over the false bell . The false bell with the attached wax decorations is again coated with a release agent. First there is fine clay, then increasingly coarser and stiffer layers of clay. In addition, the jacket is held in place by metal rings that give it greater strength. The coat is also dried by heating.
  • The jacket is lifted off the false bell, which is made possible by the applied separating layer. The wax decorations melted from the heating while drying, but have left their mark on the coat. The wrong bell will now be smashed, and it will also come off the core because of the release agent. The core and jacket are cleaned again, after which the jacket is placed back on the core. Between the core and the jacket there is now a cavity that was previously occupied by the wrong bell and into which the molten metal flows during casting.
  • For casting, the pit in which the bell molds stand is completely filled with earth and this is properly compacted so that the mold can withstand the pressure that occurs during casting . Finally, the crown with the pouring hole and the wind whistle - these allow air and gases to escape during casting. On the surface of the now completely filled casting pit, channels are built through which liquid bell food is supposed to flow to all shapes, because mostly several bells are cast at the same time.
  • The furnace is heated up hours before casting until the liquid bell-shaped meal reaches approx. 1100 ° C. The pouring is usually initiated with the following traditional slogan: “In God's name let it flow, push out the cone. God keep the house. ”Then the liquid bell food is fed through the prepared channels and the pouring hole into the mold until it is completely filled. Gases escaping through the wind whistles are flared.
  • After a cooling time of several days - longer for larger bells - the bell can be removed from the mold; only then can it be seen whether the casting was successful.

The symbolic Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. - the hour of Jesus Christ's death - is traditionally chosen as the date for the casting  .

Church bells are often decorated in a variety of ways; they show, for example, a figural relief (figure of a saint or crucifixion group). Many bells have been dated in writing and given the foundry name since the late Middle Ages. The bell-casting craft is relatively old and requires a lot of experience. That is why many bell foundries have a very long tradition.

Bells made from substitute alloys


Chilled cast iron bells by JF Weule (left) and Schilling & Lattermann (right) exhibited in a museum

The substitute materials have different properties than bell bronze, which can have a detrimental effect on the sound. Most have a higher speed of sound and therefore have a shorter decay time. Due to the higher porosity of some materials such as cast iron with the carbon they contain, the damping is greater, which also has a negative effect on the decay process. The modulus of elasticity also plays a role, with cast steel it is considerably higher than with bronze, which means that the clapper has shorter contact with the bell and the stop sounds harder. Therefore, clappers of iron and steel bells are mostly equipped with bronze jaws or buffers. Depending on the alloy, corrosion and wear can be significantly greater compared to bronze and therefore the durability is lower.

The reason for the decision to use materials other than copper, especially after the two world wars, were the lower costs, as the copper had been collected for the production of weapons, and the fear that bronze bells could be drawn in again in another war.

Cast steel bells

Cast steel bell in front of the Bochum town hall

Cast steel bells were initially a progressive invention of the 19th century. After the two world wars, they were usually a welcome and inexpensive replacement for bronze bells confiscated for war purposes during the world wars. For the most part, steel bells only have a simple plate crown as a suspension . Ornaments and inscriptions were not poured in, but welded on afterwards.

Bochum Association

The most important foundry for cast steel bells and at the same time the most productive bell foundry in the world was the Bochumer Verein in Bochum . From 1851 to 1970 around 38,000 bells were cast there from cast steel on an industrial scale , including around 18,000 church bells and around 20,000 signal bells. The bells were exported around the world, including such prominent examples as the peace bell of Hiroshima . After the biggest bell losses of the Second World War had been repaired by the end of the 1960s and the demand for cast steel bells fell significantly, the then owner Krupp had production stopped in 1970.

One of the largest and at the same time oldest cast steel bells of the "Bochumer Verein" hangs today as a monument in front of the Bochum town hall. It weighs about 15,000 kg and has a lower diameter of 313 cm. It was cast for the Paris World's Fair in 1867. The "Kaiser-Ruprecht-Glocke" ( nominal / chime: es 0 ) in the collegiate church in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse is the heaviest swinging cast steel bell in the world and the second largest bell in Germany after the. 14,000 kg and a lower diameter of 321 cm Petersglocke in Cologne Cathedral .

Many different types of ribs were used during the production time of the Bochum cast steel bells . By 1937, most bells were cast in a minor sixth or seventh rib. The bells, which are then cast in a minor octave rib, have a significant sound flaw: their strike tone is doubled upwards every second and causes an unpleasant dissonance when struck , which is particularly noticeable when several bells sound together; In retrospect, this rib is called the “minor octave rib with a second striking note”, or “second striking note rib” for short. Due to the pressure exerted by experts, a series of tests of twelve minor octave ribs (test ribs) was developed from 1948 onwards, from which the extremely heavily constructed V-12 rib was initially selected; from then on she had to ring almost exclusively on cranked yokes. The final agreement was reached on the minor octave rib V7 . Around 1957 a "major octave rib" (the undertone of the bell has a ratio of one octave to the strike note, the third partial tone this time is a major major ) with an astonishingly good resonance was developed and patented. An example of this is the large c 1 bell in the St. Gottfried Church in Münster . Then the different types of ribs, including the older ones, were also combined within one chime in order to match the partials of one bell to the strikes of the other bells. For example, with the four-part bell for the Protestant St. Peter's Church in Albisheim (Pfrimm), the following application resulted : The largest g 1 bell was in major octave, the second largest bell was a 1 in seventh and the two small h 1 and d 2 -Bells cast in a minor sixth rib; An even larger d 1 bell in a minor octave rib (V7) was not cast for cost reasons and was only added later in bronze. Many of these mixed bells were produced with the support of the Palatinate bell expert Theo Fehn .

More founders of cast steel bells

In addition to the Bochumer Verein , the following companies, most of them in the interwar period, manufactured cast steel bells:

Due to the sometimes inadequate sound quality of the bells - in the case of the Bochumer Verein especially in the first years after the Second World War - and the too large dimensions of the bells, which in some places put a heavy burden on the bell tower, many of these steel bells have been replaced by bronze bells in recent years been replaced. The replacement is partly justified by the allegedly limited shelf life, which, however, is based on a misjudgment given the fundamental material properties of cast steel and the only superficial rust layer. Often there is also a mix-up with chilled iron.

Chilled iron bells

Iron bell destroyed by corrosion

Chilled cast iron bells are easier to manufacture than steel bells. They contain a four percent high carbon content . Due to the material properties, the sound is duller and the reverberation shorter compared to bronze bells. If chilled cast iron bells are compared with the proportions of a bronze bell of the same tone, the diameter and weight are also relatively high. Chilled cast iron bells usually have no crown. Due to the high carbon content, they rust heavily and from the inside out; The disintegration process cannot be stopped by painting the bell. As a result, and because of the very brittle material, these bells have a comparatively short service life. Depending on the source, the information varies between 70 and a maximum of 100 years. However, the state of preservation can vary greatly. Because of the uncertain lifespan, many of these bells have been exchanged for new ones made of bronze since the 1990s, especially in East Germany .

The best-known bell foundries that produced chilled iron bells were Schilling & Lattermann in Apolda and Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz (under the product name Klangstahl ) as well as JF Weule from Bockenem , and the Ulrich & Weule company founded with the Ulrich bell foundry from Apolda . From 1918 onwards, both of them produced chilled cast iron bells, which were cheaper than bronze bells. While Ulrich & Weule bells swing mainly on straight yokes, bells from Schilling & Lattermann almost always ring on cranked yokes, which leads to further loss of sound.

The largest still ringing iron bell from the Schilling & Lattermann company is the Luther bell of the Luther Church in Erfurt from 1927 (as 0 , 5470 kg), that of the Ulrich & Weule company is the Christ-König-Bell (b 0 , 4,500 kg) in St. Boniface of Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen .

Special bronze bells

The Albert Junker bell foundry in Brilon (formerly Heinrich Humpert bell foundry ) began in 1930 with the casting of special bronze bells made of a tin- free silicon alloy with approx. 92 percent copper . After the Second World War until the foundry closed in 1955, around 3,000 bells were cast from special bronze, some of which were comparable to bronze bells in terms of sound, and others of poor quality (shortness of breath). The best bells include the nine-part bells (1948, on G sharp 0 ) for the collegiate church in Baden-Baden and the six-part bells (1954, on cis 1 ) of the Pauluskirche in Ludwigshafen-Friesenheim .

Rincker also cast a few hundred copper-silicon bells between 1945 and 1949.

Euphon bells

Euphon bells are made from a tin-free copper - zinc alloy. The only foundry that cast these bells was that of Carl Czudnochowsky from Erding. This foundry lasted until 1971. The three largest euphon bells are the Hosanna (fis 0 , 5250 kg) of the Archabbey of Sankt Ottilien , the Salvatorglocke (fis 0 , 5650 kg) of the parish church Maria Hilf in Munich-Au and the festival bell (f 0 , 6080 kg) of the parish church Heilig Kreuz in Lachen SZ (Switzerland).

White bronze bells

The Benjamin Grüninger bell foundry from Neu-Ulm cast white bronze bells from an aluminum alloy. Because of the extremely soft metal, these bells are subject to heavy wear. Because of the very low reverberation and the very dry, muffled sound, some of them were replaced by bronze bells at an early stage.

Zinc bells

Zinc bells were made from a copper-zinc alloy in the late years of the Second World War (Junker / Brilon and Petit & Gebr. Edelbrock / Gescher). They usually do not have a crown and their resonance behavior is extremely dull, dull and short of breath. Their mass is between 20 and 300 kg.

Historical bell shapes

The shape of a bell (without a crown) is described by its cross-section; because of its rotational symmetry, it is sufficient to specify one half of the cross-section, which is also called a rib . The rib shape determines the tone and sound. The method for calculating and designing the rib in order to achieve the desired tone in a planned casting differs from foundry to foundry and is usually a trade secret passed on in the respective bell foundry families.

The gothic triad rib is the most common shape. But it was a long way to go. Many medieval bells did not have a pronounced lower part, called a wolm , but rather the shape of a beehive . Such beehive bells are still preserved today. The Lullus bell, cast in a thin beehive rib in the monastery ruins of Bad Hersfeld in 1038, is the oldest dated and cast bell in Germany. The largest beehive bell is the 3600 kg Kunigunden bell (nominal / strike: around c sharp 1 ) in Bamberg Cathedral . Most bells of this type were smaller, up to around 120 kg. In the 12th century the sugar loaf rib developed . The upper part of the bell, called the flank , is relatively slender, while the Wolm is wide. Some examples of this type of bell still exist. The death bell, which was cast around 1200, hangs in the Constance cathedral . It sounds in c sharp 3 , with a diameter of 55 cm. A sugar loaf bell hangs in the mountain chapel in Büsingen . Probably the most beautiful sounding copy is the death bell in the Überlingen Minster . It weighs 90 kg, has a diameter of 56 cm and the tone c 3 .

Around the year 1200 the Gothic three-tone rib developed , with the diameter in the upper part being wider than that of the Sugar Loaf rib. This first showed the sound that is still common today and is a model for today's rib shapes. The later French rib and the Baroque rib were also widely used.

Bell parts

Designation of the bell parts


The body of the bell comprises three main shaping parts.

  1. Brass knuckles (also known as striking for short ), this is the thickest part of the bell far down on the body, against which the clapper strikes; the very edge of the bell is the sharpness ; the diameter of the sharpness is usually the largest dimension of the bell; the opening itself is called the bell mouth .
  2. Mantle (also called curvature due to its inwardly curved shape ), which begins above the stroke with the so-called Wolm (wreath), merges into the steeper flank and ends at the shoulder .
  3. Hood , which consists of a bulge ( neck or lower plate ) and the flat plate (also called upper plate or crown plate ).

The crown also sits on the plate . It sometimes consists of a central arch on which several (usually six) handles can lean; Crown handles can also be arranged radially . The crown of the bell is connected to the bell yoke by strong iron bands. The yoke, in turn, with which the bell starts to move, can be straight, slightly cranked up to the plate, moderately cranked up to the base of the hood or strongly cranked up to the center of gravity of the bell. A lever or a roving wheel for power transmission is mounted on the yoke.


Bell clapper in St. Georg Minster in Dinkelsbühl

The clapper consists of the flat leaf on which it is hung, the long shaft , the ball (also called a ball , but sometimes a little thicker than high) and the curtain (also called a swinging peg or protrusion ). The exact tuning of the clapper plays an important role in the quality of the sound of the bell.

The size of the ball (usually 53 of the brass knuckles strength is considered appropriate) has an impact on the sound ratio of principal to mixed tones, because the duration of contact between the clapper and the bell depends on the weight of the ball. The center of gravity of the clapper is usually on the upper edge of the ball, the stop point must be exactly the thickest point of the brass knuckle. The dimensions of the curtain also influence the sound.

The clapper is made from soft iron, for example from unhardened case-hardened steel C15. If the material is too hard, the bell will be damaged in the long term by weakening the striking ring at the stop point. Therefore the hardness of a new clapper must be less than the hardness of the bell. A clapper can have bronze buffers embedded at the stop points and protruding from the clapper.

The clapper is hung with a multi-layered leather loop on the clapper axis or on the hanging iron, in such a way that it swings exactly at right angles to the yoke. The point of attachment of the clapper to the brass knuckle should coincide with the center of the impact of the clapper in order to avoid damage to the suspension.

The natural oscillation of the clapper is acoustically negligible compared to the oscillation of the bell. It is impossible to predict when a clapper will break (even with intensive and frequent material examinations). On December 25, 2014, the clapper of the largest bell broke in Bonn Minster ; on New Year's Eve 2006 it was also broken.

Yoke and clapper are under the term Bell armature summarized.

Lace catcher

Lace catchers are used in the European Alpine region, mainly in Salzburg, Vorarlberg, Tyrol, South Tyrol and Carinthia. A clapper bells can be recognized by a sudden onset of a ringing, without a starting and stopping phase.


The lullus bell.  Example of a traditional bell suspension with a cable Cranked suspension of a cast steel bell
The lullus bell . Example of a traditional bell suspension with a cable
Cranked suspension of a cast steel bell
Typical suspension in English churches with bells that can be swiveled through 360 °

Bell chamber

Church bells and especially larger bell systems are mostly housed in a bell room on the bell tower, especially in Central and Northern Europe. The bell chamber is a closed room in the bell tower which, in addition to the bells, may also contain the chimes, striking mechanisms and the bell cage. If the bells are rung by hand with a rope, the bell ropes usually run through the floor of the bell house to the lower floors of the bell tower in order to make them more accessible to the bell ringer and to protect him from the high noise level.

The bell chamber has sound windows or sound arcades in the outer walls , which serve to propagate sound into the public space and influence this through size and arrangement. The sound windows are usually closed with wooden blinds that are slanted downwards. These are called sound shutters and have a certain directional effect for the bell sound. In addition, they serve to protect against the weather and to protect against accidents in the event of the bell tearing off the clapper.


If the load-bearing capacity of the surrounding parts of the building allows, small and individual bells in particular are attached directly to neighboring parts of the structure, such as the beams of roof trusses or turrets, or the masonry of walls or window reveals. Larger bells and bell systems, on the other hand, require their own supporting structure as a bell cage, which absorbs the considerable dynamic and static forces of the ringing bells and diverts them harmlessly for the building. Traditionally, belfry is built as a heavy wooden beam structure. In the first half of the 20th century in particular, steel bell cages were also often built. Due to the less favorable vibration properties and the durability in terms of corrosion and fatigue resistance, however, there has largely been a return to wood construction.

Bell yoke

Images under: Commons: GlockenjochCommons logo 

Bells that ring vibrantly require an axis of rotation, which is formed by the so-called bell yoke. As a rule, the yoke consists of a horizontal oak beam with steel bearing journals at the ends, which run in bearings on the bell cage. The bell is hung on its crown with steel fittings encircling the yoke under the underside of the yoke and screwed. In order to increase its load-bearing capacity, the yoke is usually doubled with a top piece on the top, another beam part usually about the same thickness as the actual yoke. In southern European countries, much stronger upper pieces are also common, which, due to their considerable mass, also cause a shift in the center of gravity and an increase in the moment of inertia.

In addition to oak bell yokes, steel yokes were also manufactured in the first half of the 20th century. Similar to the bell chairs, however, in renovations and new buildings, due to the poor vibration properties and lower fatigue strength of the steel, oak has been almost completely reverted to.

Cranked yoke

In the normal case, the yoke is a straight, elongated bar, the axis of rotation of which lies near its lower surface and thus just above the upper edge of the bell crown. The dynamic forces of a large swinging bell not only approximately double the vertical static weight force, but also bring horizontal forces into the bell cage and the supporting structure. In order to avoid damage caused by the considerable alternating loads, a hat-shaped cranked yoke can be used. This engages around the bell so that the oscillation axis is closer to its center of gravity. Because of the associated shortening of the physical pendulum, the bell then strikes more frequently every minute. A very strong offset, on the other hand, slows down the swinging of the bell, since the effect of the moment of inertia then outweighs that of the shortening of the pendulum.

In addition to the desired relief of the load-bearing structure, there are also disadvantages with cranked yokes: The Doppler effect is reduced and the ringing is less lively. Because the axis of vibration of the bell moves closer to that of the clapper or even coincides with it, the bell is no longer stimulated to vibrate. It changes from a “flying” to a “falling” clapper (also known as falling clapper ), which does not strike the top of the bell, but rather falls on its underside and muffles the sound. By extending the clapper fork, you can move the clapper axis downwards and compensate for this again. However, the clapper becomes shorter and its pendulum frequency has to be slowed down by an additional weight above its pendulum axis in order to achieve a flying clapper again. However, this increases the moment of inertia of the clapper, so that the contact time increases when it hits the bell and its sound becomes more overtone.

Cranked yokes were mainly used for chilled cast iron bells, which were supposed to replace bronze bells lost in the war. Since chilled cast iron bells are larger than the bronze version with the same pitch, the higher load on the existing bell frame and bell tower due to the offset should be avoided.


Manual and automatic operation

A bell is rung by hand using a rope wheel or lever attached to the yoke. Occasionally, instead of the rope wheel or lever, a transverse board was attached to the yoke, which was kept going by a person standing above the bell. This can still be seen on the historical bells in the Neuwerkkirche in Goslar, the praying bell of the Nicolaikirche in Lemgo , on the Tuba Dei from 1500 ( Toruń , Johanneskirche) and on the Emmanuel (Paris, Notre-Dame).

The first known motor-driven chime was realized in 1898 by the Bochumer Verein in the Georgenkirche (Berlin-Mitte) , around 1908 the common drive of the bells was replaced by individual drives and switching mechanisms were added to ring individual bells or from Bell groups made possible. Counted bell strikes, on the other hand, are produced with a so-called "striking mechanism", in which the bell is struck with a hammer. Today most bells are rung by motor. The ringing machine drives the bell. An electric motor with electronic or electromechanical control causes the bell to vibrate via a chain or belt drive and the rope wheel attached to the bell yoke. In the area of ​​the bell's rest position, the motor is briefly switched on alternately in one or the other direction of rotation, whereby the bell gradually rocks up to the desired ringing angle. More recently, linear motors have also been used for bell drives, which enable a contact and noiseless connection between the force-transmitting elements. This design is also ideal in confined spaces.

Further technical data

The frequency of the stops (measured in stops per minute) depends on the mass of the bell and the yoke, their center of gravity, their distance from the bearing axis and the ringing angle. Damage to bell towers is sometimes caused by resonances , which result from the proximity of the ringing frequency of a bell to the natural frequency of the tower and which lead to tower fluctuations of several millimeters. In such cases, the yoke is often given additional weight (one then speaks of an "overweight" yoke) in order to slow down the bell.

The bell and clapper form a double pendulum . The ringing must therefore also be set up for the correct stop of the clapper. This is not very critical for the following reason: The later the clapper hits the brass knuckles (thickest part of the bell) after the bell has reversed, the more energy it takes over. If this is more than the loss of energy during the impact , the clapper moves faster to the opposite side and absorbs less energy there. For this feedback to work, the natural (shock-free) pendulum frequency of the clapper must be slightly lower than that of the bell, so that the phase of the bell oscillation drives that of the clapper in front of it. If the frequencies are too different, the clapper takes too little energy from the swinging of the bell at the beginning, so that it has to swing violently in order to even strike a first blow. If the difference frequency is too small, the clapper vibrates in phase with the bell and the bell remains silent.

Chime bell

Typical strike bell from 1831 from the Doberan Minster

Rigidly suspended bells that are struck from the outside of the brass knuckles by a hammer are called bell bells and are often cast in a “shortened” rib. Such bells are often used to strike a clock or are used in carillons / carillons. A special type of ringing is the beeping (see ringing order ). Here only the chimes are struck rhythmically, dynamically and melodically differently.

Typical Italian percussion

In Italy bells are rarely rung freely. The bells are sometimes struck by hand through the clapper on the brass knuckles. Today, this function is usually performed by a standardized striking mechanism. The bell is made to ring by a motor-driven round-shaped hammer using electrical impulses. The beat frequency and the regular beat sequence can sometimes be freely selected. This characteristic, typical of the country, ensures a gentle way of letting the bell ring in various rhythms. In addition, the tower and the suspension device are statically protected, since the forces that occur when swinging are completely absent with this device. On the other hand, the Doppler effect , which is perceived as pleasant, is missing and the bells tend to sound a bit more rigid. This stop device is also not comparable to that of a carillon or a carillon .

Sound behavior

Standing waves with an integer ratio of circumference / wavelength occur along the circumference. There are several natural frequencies .

Bells have a characteristic sound . Because bells are cast with a lost shape , each bell is unique and has an individual sound. The sound of a bell depends mainly on its geometric shape - its "rib" - and on the metal alloy. It consists of a number of partials and usually a strike note . The partials are real tones and can be measured physically, the strike tone is a virtual tone and cannot be measured directly. As a residual sound, it represents a psychoacoustic phenomenon, i.e. it arises in the brain.

The strike tone causes the subjectively perceived pitch of a bell and is therefore its nominal tone in the German-speaking world . It also serves as a reference tone for the individual partials, which are indicated by their interval from the striking tone. The five lowest partials (undertone, prime, third, fifth, octave) are called principal tones, the higher partials are called mixed tones . The principal tones usually have stronger amplitudes and longer decay times than the mixed tones and are therefore of fundamental importance for the sound.

If bells are made of the same metal and are geometrically similar to one another , i.e. if they are scaled up or down, then their frequencies relate to one another in the opposite direction to their diameters, the masses to the third power. Halving the diameter increases the tone by an octave and reduces the mass to an eighth. This connection was already known in the Middle Ages.

Bell disposition

In the Middle Ages, bells were usually not coordinated with one another, as each was only used individually and therefore did not have to harmonize with the other bells.

Bells that have grown over centuries and often have neither a harmonic nor a melodic disposition are characterized by their particular individuality, both in terms of the sound of each individual bell and the full bells.

Bells have been coordinated with one another since the late Gothic period, for example the melodically following Cologne cathedral bells Pretiosa, Speciosa and Dreikönigenglocke g 0 - a 0 - h 0 . With the improvement of the art of bell-casting and the return to the Gothic ideal of sound from the 19th century and especially after the two world wars, chimes were increasingly used in widespread combinations. Depending on the existing chimes of the bells, certain combinations result, called "motifs" , which are usually named after the initial notes of old chorales or liturgical chants. There are, for example, many triple chimes on the motif of the Te Deum or the Glorias . Depending on the occasion, more harmonious or dissonant motifs are selected.

Here are a few sound samples:

Motif formation: minor third , major second

(Strikes here: f sharp 1 - a 1 - b 1 )

Te Deum
Motif formation: major second, minor third

(Strikes here: b 1 - c sharp 2 - e 2 )

Motif formation: two large seconds

(Beats here: a 1 - b 1 - c sharp 2 )

Motif formation: major third, minor third, major second

(Strikes here: a 1 - c sharp 2 - e 2 - f sharp 2 )

cath .: Salve Regina ;
ev .: Wake up
Motif formation: major second, minor third, major second

(Beats here: a 1 - h 1 - d 2 - e 2 )

Christ is risen

The following tabular listing of the combinations is based on the listing of motifs for the Diocese of Cologne, among other things in terms of names and frequency breakdown, but is generally comparable in German parishes.

Common combinations

Most common name Another name Number Starting notes of the most common song Chord
transposed to c ′
Father noster Maria, take off her coat (version Mohr 1891) 3
 \ relative c '{\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature #' stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead # 'style = #' harmonic-black c1 d1 e1 e1} \ addlyrics {pat- ter nost}
 \ relative c '{<cd e>}
Gloria motif (Gloria of the IV Choral Mass , Gregorian ) 3
 \ relative c '{\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature #' stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead # 'style = #' harmonic-black c1 (d1 f1) f1 f1} \ addlyrics {Glo- ri- a}
 \ relative c '{<cd f>}
Te Deum laudamus 3
 \ relative c '{\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature #' stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead # 'style = #' harmonic-black c1 es1 ( f1) f1} \ addlyrics {Te De- um}
 \ relative c '{<c es f>}
Resurréxi ( Introit of the mass on Easter Sunday ) 3
 \ relative c '{\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature #' stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead # 'style = #' harmonic-black e1 e1 ( g1 e1) g1 g1 (g1 g1 e1 fis1 e1)} \ addlyrics {Re- sur- rexi}
 \ relative c '{<cd es>}
Salve regina Wake up, the voice calls us (Protestant churches) 4th
 {\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature # 'stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead #' style = # 'harmonic-black d'1 fis'1 a '1 b'1 a'1} \ addlyrics {Sal- ve, Regina}
 \ relative c '{<ceg a>}
Victimae paschali laudes Easter sequence, Gloria-Te Deum motif 4th
 \ relative c '{\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature #' stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead # 'style = #' harmonic-black \ key c \ major b1 a1 b1 d1 e1 d1 cis1 b1} \ addlyrics {Vi- cti- mae pas- chalau- des}
 \ relative c '{<cdf g>}
Christ is risen
 {\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature # 'stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead #' style = # 'harmonic-black d'1 (d'1 ) c'1 d'1 f'1 (g'1) d'1} \ addlyrics {Christ has arisen}
Rejoice, you queen of heaven Completed major triad 4th
 \ relative c '{\ time 2/2 \ partial 2 f2 f4 c'4 a4 f4 g4 g4 a2} \ addlyrics {Rejoice, you heavenly queen}
 \ relative c '{<cde g>}
Preface motive Filled minor triad, O Savior, tear open the heavens 4th
 {\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature # 'stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead #' style = # 'harmonic-black b1 d'1 e'1 e'1 fis'1 e'1 e'1 d'1 e'1 e'1 (d'1) d'1} \ addlyrics {per om- a sae- cu- la sae- cu- lo- rum}
 \ relative c '{<c es f g>}
Ideal quartet Parsifal motif, Te Deum Gloria motif, Cibavit eos 4th
 \ relative c '{<c es f aes>}
Westminster Good for those who walk there 4th
\ relative c '{\ time 6/4 \ key e \ major e4 g sharp f sharp b, 2.  |  e4 f sharp g sharp e2.  |  g sharp 4 e f sharp b, 2.  |  b4 f sharp 'g sharp e2.  }
 \ relative c '{<cfg a>}
Gloria minor motif 4th
 \ relative c '{<cdf a>}
Pentecost sequence (Veni sancte spiritus) Requiem , Vidi aquam , Dextram laudet suscitatem , Laetentur caeli 4th
 {\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature # 'stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead #' style = # 'harmonic-black des'1 es'1 f '1 ges'1 f'1 (es'1) des'1 es'1} \ addlyrics {Veni sanc- te spirit}
 \ relative c '{<cde f>}
Ad te levavi animam meam 5
 {\ clef "petrucci-g" \ override Staff.TimeSignature # 'stencil = ## f \ set Score.timing = ## f \ override Voice.NoteHead #' style = # 'harmonic-black des'1 (b1) des '1 es'1 (f'1) f'1 es'1 es'1 (as'1 as'1) f'1 es'1 (f'1) des'1 (es'1) es'1 ( f'1 es'1 es'1 des'1)} \ addlyrics {Ad te le- va -vi a- ni- mam me- am}
 \ relative c '{<c es fg bes>}
Easter hallelujah 5
 \ relative c '{<cdfg a>}

Combinations that are not due to songs

Most common name Another name Number Chord
transposed to c ′
Major triad 3
 \ relative c '{<ce g>}
Major four chords (especially in Switzerland) 4th
 \ relative c '{<ceg c>}
Minor triad 3
 \ relative c '{<c es g>}
Diminished triad (mainly for iron and steel bells) 3
 \ relative c '{<c es ges>}
Griesbacher's ideal sextet Beuron motif 6th
 \ relative c '{<c es f aes bes c>}

Less common combinations

Most common name Another name Number Starting notes of the most common song Chord
transposed to c ′
Your savior, your teacher Phrygian tetrachord 3
 \ relative c '{<c des e>}
Benedicamus 4th
 \ relative c '{<cfg aes>}
Tui sunt coeli 4th
 \ relative c '{<cd es f>}
Great God, we praise you 4th
 \ relative c '{<c des es f>}
Praise and honor to you God in heaven 5
 \ relative c '{<cdef g>}
Gloria and Te Deum 6th
 \ relative c '{<cdfg bes c>}
Te Deum and Gloria 6th
 \ relative c '{<c es f aes bes c>}

Bell inscriptions

Content, message, dedication

Example of inscriptions on a bell: the year of casting and the foundryman on the shoulder , the dedication on the flank, the foundry mark on the Wolm

Inscriptions from the German-speaking area in the Middle Ages and early modern times can now also be deciphered online - with the help of the German Inscriptions Online project . This is an inter-academic cooperation project, accessible at , between various academies and institutions that have bundled their competencies for this purpose.


The inscriptions on the bells include the name of the founder and the year the bell was cast. In the case of early medieval bells, the year of casting, the name of the founder, or both information may be missing (anonymous founder). Due to the decoration or shape, it is partly possible to ascribe the bell to a specific caster. If the year of casting is missing, the bell can be assigned to a century or more precisely according to its shape and sound structure. The year of casting can be in the form of a chronogram .


  • LAVDO DEVM VERVM. PLEBEM VOCO. CONGREGO CLERVM. DEFVNCTOS PLORO. PESTVM FVGO. FESTA DECORO ”(German:" I praise the true God. I call the people. I gather the clergy. I weep the dead. I chase away the plague. I decorate the festivals! ")
  • " O REX GLORIAE VENI CVM PACE " (German: "O, King of glory come in peace.")
  • " AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA DOMINVS TECVM " (German: "Greetings, Maria, full of grace, the Lord is with you.")
  • "HOLY ... / HOLY ... PRAY FOR US!"
  • The bell inscription on the Schaffhausen cathedral bell , which Friedrich Schiller chose as the motto for his song from the bell ,
    " VIVOS VOCO, MORTUOS PLANGO, FULGURA FRANGO " (German: "I call the living. I lament the dead. I lament the dead." 'i. ")
  • "
Inscription on the bell from 1735 in Barskamp

Artistic design

In the course of the centuries, bell inscriptions have also shown artistic design of the characters. For example, some type designers have shaped bells in their creative periods with individual artistic handwriting; over time, their font design became a “trademark” of these bell foundries.

“A bell wins through the peculiarity of an artistic font (...). If the artist cut the legend out of thin wax tablets after prior recording, the result was a moving typeface, as with the scratching technique , because he could design any word as he wanted. Freehand letters cut from wax appear even more spontaneous, a type of lettering on bells that Horst Jahresling from Weimar in particular used - for over thirty years responsible for writing and relief decoration in the Apolda foundry . His style of expression avoided a wealth of details and was subordinate to a generous, flowing form in calm lines; he let the surface dominate as an appearance both in the writing and in the decoration and thus triggered a harmony of independent character. "

Bell scratch drawings

A special kind of medieval art has almost been forgotten: Bell scratch drawings . Carved into the mold of the bell the wrong way round, they stood out visibly and noticeably from the bell body after the casting - they were widespread in their time. Such drawings, which were driven or notched with a stylus into the clay jacket inside the bell to be cast, appeared after removal of the mold as mostly sharp-edged, slightly moving burrs "semi-relief-like", which is why they were sometimes wrongly referred to as thread reliefs .

The number of such unique bell carvings has fallen sharply due to the melting and destruction of bells in times of war. The few relief rub-offs that have survived thus have a high documentary value: They also convey the religious world of thought that inspired these works. For centuries only accessible to a few people in the church towers, these carved bell drawings testify to the craftsmanship and the mostly impulsive freshness of their creators. Two medieval bells from the Panitzsch Church near Leipzig are one of the few surviving examples of incised drawings that have also been examined in terms of art history .

Bell restoration and encapsulation

The renovation and restoration of bells and the welding of cracks in the bell body are time-consuming and complicated - they require extensive knowledge and experience of manual, technical, musical and historical nature.

The term “casting” is common, but not an exact term for the manufacture of a bell. Even with the most modern technical aids, it is not possible to “recreate” a previous bell so precisely that the “casting” corresponds to the historical model. In addition, the material of the previous bell is never completely sufficient for a new bell because of the burn-off during the melting process.

Also, small and medium-sized bells are not manufactured individually, so that the “casting” - albeit for understandable reasons - was often a pious fraud. The influences from the molding process, the melting process, the casting temperature, the weather and the cooling conditions inevitably mean that a "recast" bell is a new bell, ideally using the material of the previous bell. So-called facsimile casts for the replacement of bells delivered during the Second World War, returned and damaged during transport, do not correspond to the original bell with a four-handle crown and central bore, if it was equipped with a hanging iron and six-handle crown.

The actual year of casting of the bell must always be given as the year of casting. Traditionally, both casting years are given for "recast" bells - that is, that of the previous bell and that of the newly cast bell. Thus, for a “cast” bell, the “cast” year counts as the year of its creation.

Names and functions

Second use of the station bell of the Hessian Ludwig Railway in the
Pfungstadt cemetery

The designation of the bells can usually be divided into one of the following categories:


Bells had an outstanding cultic and ritual significance in the European premodern. Their community-creating function is also evident in the great financial and logistical efforts that the bell casting demanded of late medieval parishes. Bells were either expressly dedicated in the inscription to a saint or an occasion (e.g. Maria Gloriosa in Erfurt Cathedral ) or are popularly named like that (e.g. Great Susanne in Freiberg Cathedral ). The name of the bell should be taken into account in the chime, such as for the patronage of the parish church or the holidays for the eponymous saint. But also the infused inscription, such as “I escort the dead” (death knell), plays a decisive role. For the daily Angelus prayer , the Mary or Angelus bell usually rings in Catholic parishes . Until the late Middle Ages, the bells were only rung as a soloist. Each bell had its special function, the occasion for which it was to sound. No attention was paid to a harmonic or melodic coordination with a feed. Some bell names and functions (such as the arm sinner bell ) no longer exist today. Inscriptions or additions such as 'vivos voco, fulgura frango' prove that bells were also used for mundane tasks, for example to ward off lightning and storms.

In modern times, bells were also used for purely profane purposes, such as school or train station bells. They were used to inform a larger audience about an occurring event, such as the beginning of a lesson or the departure of a train .

Name / designation (historical) function Example (strike tone)
Apostolica Apostle bell; denotes the apostolic festivals Magdeburg Cathedral (b 0 )
Dominica (lat. "That belongs to the Lord") Sunday bell Ulm Minster (b 0 )
Evangelist bell rings at the recitation of the gospel; often bears the names of the evangelists Münsterschwarzach Abbey (b 1 )
Fire bell (fire bell) warns of fire hazard; in Zurich earlier to secure the hearth fire St. Lamberti (Munster)
Gloriosa (Latin for "the glorious") Holiday bell; usually the lowest bell of a peal. Denotes the high festival. Erfurt Cathedral (e 0 )
Michael's Bell Holiday bell United Switzerland (b 2 )
Hosanna Gloriosa ; can act as a second holiday bell Archabbey of Sankt Ottilien (fis 0 )
Market bell calls for the opening and closing of the market Herrenberg Collegiate Church (es 2 )
Mettenglocke calls to Mette Cologne Cathedral (h 1 )
Measuring bell calls to Holy Mass Minster St. Georg Dinkelsbühl
Osanna Gloriosa ; can act as a second holiday bell; Eucharist bell Halberstadt Cathedral (b 0 )
Sermon bell calls to the sermon service Bern Minster (h 0 )
Prime, third, sixth, non-bell calls at the appropriate times of the day of the Liturgy of the Hours St. Nicholas Cathedral
in Friborg
(as 1 )
Pulse bell largest and deepest ringing bell of a peal
Councilor / Councilor Bell calls to the assembly of councilors , mayor Marienkirche zu Stendal

Minster St. Georg Dinkelsbühl

Arbitration bell proclaimed various of a parishioner Herrenberg Collegiate Church (c 2 )
School bell rings for the start of school George's Church in Schlitz (c 3 )
Storm bell Bell intended to ring a storm , usually a fire bell
(cf. bell inscriptions “fulgura frango: I break the lightning” or “I drive away all bad weather”)
Limburg Cathedral (g 1 )
Striker warns of severe storms Minster St. Georg Dinkelsbühl (es 1 )
Susanna Gloriosa ; can act as a second holiday bell. "Susanna" is a personification of the exclamation Hosanna . Munich Frauenkirche (a 0 )
Vespers bell calls for Vespers Brunswick Cathedral (es 2 )
Watch bell Poor soul bell, urges prayer for the poor souls in purgatory Greifswald Marienkirche
Transformation bell rings during the prayer Maria Plain (e 2 )
Weather bell → Storm bell Markusmünster
in Reichenau-Mittelzell
(g 1 )
Character bell (call bell) provides one or more preludes for the service St. Peter in Zurich (c 1 )
Twelve, eleven, nine o'clock bells etc. the bells, also known as two, four, six, seven, eight, ten, eleven, twelve, were rung at a specific time. The noon chime commemorates the victory of the Hungarian armies over the Turks in 1456 St. Peter in Munich (a 1 )

Popular bell names

The popular names can come from their use (like plague bell ), but also from shape (like long neck ) or donor names (like Winklerin ).

Name / designation origin of the name function example
Fear bell The fear of death of Jesus on the Mount of Olives rings on Thursday evening St. Florian Monastery
Poor soul bell the “poor souls” / lost people should find the way rings at night for orientation, before the city gates close Bamberg Cathedral (F sharp 2 )
Poor sinner's bell Execution of the "poor sinners" ring for execution Bern Minster (cis 1 )
Beer or wine bell function warns to close the pubs and taverns, to stop drinking Bad Hersfeld
town church
(a 1 )
Beer wrestler Function → beer bell calls for the beer bars to be closed St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna
Blood bell Function → Arm sinner's bell / Juridica sounds for the execution former Three Kings Bell Juridica. Cologne cathedral
Cantabona Sing well Festival bell Hildesheim Cathedral
Dicker Pitter or
Decker Pitter
Pitter is Kölsch for Peter and refers to the church patron of the cathedral, Simon Petrus, and the inscription; Thicker refers to the size Festival bell Petersglocke , Cologne Cathedral
Fat Susanne one of the chime masters compared pulling the bell to dancing with his weighty wife Susanne Festival bell Big bell. Bern Minster
Dunna deep sound ( onomatopoeia ) Festival bell Halberstadt Cathedral
Dammerich deep sound ("damming") of the previous bell Festival bell Wetzlar Cathedral
Lazy Anna never rings solo; only with the rest of the bells St. Marien (Stendal)
Feeding bell called the farmers and their employees to dinner ~ Noon bell in the Salzburg region
Big and small clamp bright sound St. Johannis (Lueneburg)
Guilder bell for the (extra-regular) ringing of the bell, a special payment of 1 guilder was set Herrenberg Collegiate Church
Hallerin Donor name Festival bell Eichstätt Cathedral
Lament Function ( lament the dead) Death bell Eichstätt Cathedral
Warrior bell soldiers killed in the war Memorial of the dead Parish Church of Wörgl
Long neck shape Choir bells for the prayers of the hours Halberstadt Cathedral
Rag bell Ring for the revelers ("rags") rings at the beginning of curfew St. Gangolf (Trier)
Plague bell Function ("Pestum Daemonemque fugo") rings when there is a risk of plague
Pill bell St. Michael at Bernkastel-Kues
Pummerin deep, powerful sound (such as pomeranian, pounding ), always the greatest in the peal Festival bell St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna
Hospital woman St. Nicholas of Überlingen
Shame bell function sounds to expel criminals
Sleeping bell Function as an evening bell sounds at night's rest Bamberg Cathedral
Screamers rough sound Vincentia , St. Severi in Erfurt
Spaetzle bell rings when it is time for the spaetzle water sounds one hour before noon, 11 a.m. Hosanna , Freiburg Minster
Turkish bell was cast from Turkish cannons or commemorates military victories or warns of the dangers of war Mauthausen parish church
Stray bell ring for the lost Poor soul bell St. Blasius in Fulda (g 1 )
Winkler presumed founder Marienbell Frauenkirche (Munich)
Train bell the dying is on his last legs heralds death Switzerland Austria
Twelve Function as a daytime bell Noon bell at 12 noon St. Peter (Munich)

Ringing order

St. Peters Bell in Cologne Cathedral (Dicker Pitter)

The ringing order determines when which bell is allowed to ring , how long and at what time . This expresses some of the goals of church bells, to call the congregation to worship, to accompany the deceased or for personal prayer. This is already reflected in the medieval bell inscription: "Vivos voco, mortuos plango, fulgura frango" - I call the living, I lament the dead, I break lightning . The last section makes it clear that church bells were ascribed various protective effects, in particular protection against storms. Even profane Läutedienste how the tolling for execution ( "hangdog Ring"), or the opening of the market, belonged to it.

Big and significant bells

Bell jar building place country Weight * comment
Big Ben Palace of Westminster London United Kingdom 000000000013500.000000000013,500 largest of the five bells of the famous clock tower ( called Elizabeth Tower from 2012 ),
strike tone: e 0
Beech forest bell Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar Germany 000000000007500.00000000007,500 In the bell tower of the concentration camp memorial near Weimar,
cast by VEB Apoldaer Glockengießerei , master bell founder Franz Schilling, bell ornament with barbed wire relief by Waldemar Grzimek in 1958
Campanone (Valadier) St. Peter's Basilica Rome Italy 000000000008950.00000000008,950 largest bell in St. Peter's Basilica, is only rung on special occasions, such as after the papal blessing Urbi et Orbi on Christmas and Easter,  chime
e 0 +3/16
Cantabona (Maria) Hildesheim Cathedral Hildesheim Germany 000000000008686.00000000008,686 Cast in 1960 by Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling from Heidelberg. Largest bell in Hildesheim Cathedral, one of the most beautiful bells in the world and the second largest bell in Lower Saxony after the Christ / Peace bell in the Marktkirche in Hanover,
diameter: 2315 mm, strike : f 0 +5/16
Christ and Peace Bell Market church St. Georgii et Jacobi Hanover Germany 000000000010360.000000000010,360 Cast in 1960 by Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling from Heidelberg. Largest bell in Northern Germany,
diameter: 2460 mm, strike tone: e 0 +2/16
Christ Peace Bell Paderborn Cathedral Paderborn Germany 000000000013520.000000000013,520 Cast in 2017 by the Eijsbouts bell foundry from Asten . Diameter: 2677 mm, strike note : e 0 -3/16
Emmanuel Notre Dame Paris France 000000000013000.000000000013,000 Largest bell in the church and one of the most important bells in Europe, cast in
1685 by the three Lorraine traveling founders Chapelle, Gillot and Moreau,
chime: f sharp 0
Holiday bell St. Sophia Cathedral Veliky Novgorod Russia 000000000026000.000000000026,000 cast in the 17th century
Freedom bell Schöneberg Town Hall Berlin Germany 000000000010206.000000000010.206 can be heard every Sunday on Deutschlandradio,
strike tone: e 0
Peace bell Friedenskirche Nuremberg Germany 000000000008330.00000000008,330 Cast by Franz Schilling Apolda in 1928; The chime sounds on Fridays at 3 p.m
.: f sharp 0 -3/16
Gloriosa Erfurt Cathedral Erfurt Germany 000000000011450.000000000011,450 Cast in 1497 by Gerhard van Wou from Kampen,
diameter: 2580 mm,  strike note : e 0 +4/16
Gloriosa Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew Frankfurt Germany 000000000011950.000000000011,950 Cast in 1877 by JG Große from Dresden based on the model of the Erfurt Gloriosa ,
diameter: 2590 mm,  strike tone: e 0 +1/16
Big bell Cathedral of the Redemption of the People Bucharest Romania 000000000025190.000000000025,190 Largest free-swinging bell in the world, cast on November 11, 2016 by the Grassmayr bell foundry . Strike tone: c 0
Hosanna Freiburg Minster Freiburg in Breisgau Germany 000000000003290.00000000003,290 cast 1258, strike note: es 1  ; one of the oldest surviving bells of this size.
Anniversary bell Old peter Munich Germany 000000000007000.00000000007,000 Cast by Karl Czudnochowsky in 1958,
the high bells ring in the high holidays and every Sunday evening at 6 p.m. it is a reminder of the dead in the city
Schlagton: f 0
Cross bell Dresden Kreuzkirche Dresden Germany 000000000011511.000000000011,511 Cast in 1899 by Franz Schilling (Apolda) based on the model of the Erfurt Gloriosa , the largest bell in Eastern Germany and the largest Protestant church bell.
Diameter: 2583 mm,  strike tone: e 0 +5/16
Le Bourdon Strasbourg Cathedral Strasbourg France 000000000008500.00000000008,500 Cast by Hans Gremp in 1427,
diameter: 2220 mm,  strike tone: as 0 +6/16
is one of the most beautiful sounding bells of the 15th century in Europe
Liberty Bell Liberty Bell Center Philadelphia United States 000000000000900.0000000000900 is considered an international symbol of freedom and was rung when the American Declaration of Independence was announced in the city
Lullus bell Bad Hersfeld Collegiate Church Bad Hersfeld Germany 000000000001000.00000000001,000 the oldest dated bell in Germany (from 1038)
Maria Dolens ( Campana dei Caduti ) hanging freely on the hill of Miravalle Rovereto Italy 000000000023000.000000000023,000 Strike tone: H.
Millennium Bell Millennium Monument tower Newport, Kentucky United States 000000000033000.000000000033,000 Strike tone: A.
Munot bell Munot fortress Schaffhausen Switzerland 000000000000420.0000000000420 the last hand-rang alarm bell in Switzerland, probably even Europe, strike tone: g 1
Petersbell Cologne cathedral Cologne Germany 000000000024000.000000000024,000 (+ Clapper: approx. 650 kg)
in Kölsch and known by the people of Cologne as "ceiling pitter" or "thick pitter", cast by Ulrich, Apolda in 1923 , second largest free-swinging church bell in the world,
diameter: 3210 mm, strike tone: c 0  - 5/16.
Pretiosa Cologne cathedral Cologne Germany 000000000010000.000000000010,000 When it was made, it was the largest bell in the Christian West that could be rung and is now one of the most sonorous bells of the Middle Ages,
diameter: 2400 mm,  strike / nominal: g 0 +1/16
Pummerin Stephansdom Vienna Austria 000000000020130.000000000020,130 (+ Clapper: 613 kg),
diameter: 3140 mm,  chime : c 0 +8/16
1711 cast (18,317 kg, including clapper, yoke and other fittings 22,512 kg; nominal  H), destroyed in 1945, 1951 from the material of old pummerin re-poured
Sigismund Vitus Cathedral Prague Czech Republic 000000000014500.000000000014,500 1549 cast, diameter: 2560 mm, strike note: total 0 ,
Roland bell Belfry of Ghent Ghent Belgium 000000000006070.00000000006,070 Dutch: Roland bell = Klokke Roeland , cast in 1660
Salvator bell Salzburg Cathedral Salzburg Austria 000000000014256.000000000014,256 the second largest bell in Austria,
was cast in 1961,
striking sound: es 0 .
Santísimo Sacramento Santuario de San Pascual Baylón Villarreal
province of Castellón
Spain 000000000002100.00000000002,100 Largest flashover bell in the world, was cast in 1998 by the Eijsbouts bell foundry in the Netherlands, part of a carillon
Savoyard Sacre Coeur Paris France 000000000018835.000000000018,835 largest bell in France, cast by Paccard in 1895 ,
strike: c sharp 0
Oath bell Ulm Minster Ulm Germany 000000000003500.00000000003,500 Cast in the 14th century,
diameter: 1640 mm, strike note: c 1
Tokinosumika bell Tokinosumika resort Gotemba Japan 000000000036250.000000000036,250 the largest swinging bell in the world (on the cranked yoke).
Diameter: 3820 mm, height: 3720 mm. Strike tone: G sharp
Vox patris Trindade Brazil approx. 55,000 Diameter approx. 4.5 m, strike tone: F sharp, casting on August 1, 2017 by Jan Felczynski bell foundry in the Metalodlew metal foundry (Poland)
Walbeck bell Walbeck Collegiate Church Walbeck Germany 000000000000100.0000000000100 probably cast in the later 11th century and thus one of the oldest still existing bells in Germany
Tsar Bell Moscow Kremlin Moscow Russia 000000000202000.0000000000202,000 Cast by Ivan Motorin and his son Michail from 1733 to 1735, the bell
was never rung
* Weights in italics are only rounded values

Bells in mythology and customs

Tintinnabulum (Southern Italy, 1st century BC)

Bells can be used in religious rituals as an aid to imaginary communication with deities or spirits . When the weather is ringing , ghosts and demons should be kept away earlier. The ringing of church bells should generally frighten demons and make them flee, as Durandus von Mende wrote in the 13th century. For this reason, people in Europe - especially children - decorated themselves with bells: to ward off evil spirits and the evil eye . Many customs in the Alpine region go back to the same origins, such as the ringing of the old and the ringing of the new year.

In Christianity , the ringing of bells indicates the time to pray. For this purpose, Christians in Arab countries used to use a wooden board called naqus (Arabic “bell”), while Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe still use the semantron corresponding to the naqus in some places as a call to prayer .

Bells are said to herald the coming of the Holy Spirit . In the second book of Moses the priests of the Lord are commanded to adorn themselves with bells. The book of Isaiah forbids women to do the same.

Regular radio broadcasts

The Saturday magazine Zwischenhalt of the Swiss broadcaster Radio SRF 1 contains the rubric Bells of the homeland . The bell specialist Stefan Mittl introduces a bell in each case. Mittl has been recording the sounds of church bells since 1984, including practically all of German-speaking Switzerland. The station has released a selection on four CDs under the title Glocken der Heimat .

In the program Morgenmelodie of the German radio station SWR4 (not to be confused with the program Morgenläuten of the same station), bell expert Sebastian Step, bell expert and campanologist , presents a bell from the entire broadcast area on Sundays and public holidays in the bell stories section , which the federal states of Rhineland- Includes Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg . The radio station Bayern 1 also presents a chime from Bavaria every Sunday with the twelve- bell chime , with mostly no information about the bells being given. Every Sunday at 11:59 a.m., the nationwide Deutschlandradio Kultur broadcasts the ringing of the freedom bell in the Berlin-Schöneberg town hall . The Germany radio begins its program of the year on 1 January in at 0:00 with the show "bells from Europe" and an assortment of sounds important bell in Europe.

In Austria , the regional radio programs of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast the midday bells of an Austrian church in most federal states every day at 12:00. The church is here briefly, sometimes the bell itself. Furthermore, the ringing of the year on all radio and television stations of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation Pummerin of Vienna's St. Stephen's Basilica transmitted.

Bell concerts

After a bell concert that took place in Hanover in 2001, bell concerts were also held in other locations. On August 21, 2016, a concert with 118 bells from 29 churches and chapels took place in St. Gallen . The computer-aided project Klangklang coordinated bells that are up to 16 kilometers apart.


  • Bells - sound between heaven and earth. Documentation, Austria 2011. Shown in: 3SAT on April 10, 2020, 11: 20–12: 10.

See also


  • Bells . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 7, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 437.
  • Alain Corbin : The language of bells. Rural feeling culture and symbolic order in France in the 19th century. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-10-010210-X .
  • Winfried Ellerhorst: Handbook of bell science . Verlag der Martinus-Buchhandlung, Weingarten 1957, DNB 451094077 (list of famous bells).
  • Manfred Hofmann: Old and new secrets of the bell foundry . In: Apoldaer Geschichtsverein e. V. (Hrsg.): Apoldaer Heimat - Contributions to the nature and local history of the city of Apolda and its surroundings . Issue 32. Apolda 2014, p. 83 ff .
  • Manfred Hofmann: The Apoldaer bell foundry - old and new secrets. Wartburg-Verlag, Weimar 2014, ISBN 978-3-86160-415-0 (with an extensive general section on bells).
  • Kurt Kramer : The bell. A cultural story. Matthias Grünewald Verlag, Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7867-8597-2 .
  • Kurt Kramer (arr./Hrsg.): Bells in past and present. Contributions to bells. Advisory committee for the German bell system. Badenia publishing house, Karlsruhe
  • André Lehr: Beiaardkunst in de Lage Landen. Tielt 1991, ISBN 90-209-1910-5 (English edition: The Art Of The Carillon In The Low Countries ).
  • Anton Lübke: clocks, bells, carillons. Müllerverlag, Villingen 1980, ISBN 3-920662-03-2 .
  • Heinrich Otte : Bell customer. Weigel, Leipzig 1858, scan in the Google book search; 2nd Edition. Leipzig 1884, .
  • Jörg Poettgen: 700 years of bell casting in Cologne. Masters and workshops between 1100 and 1800 (= workbooks of the Rhenish monument preservation 61). Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 2005, ISBN 978-3-88462-206-3 .
  • Eckart Roloff : Bells: The artillery of the clergy, exclamation mark for all kinds of things. In: Eckart Roloff: Divine flashes of inspiration. Pastors and priests as inventors and discoverers. Verlag Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2010, ISBN 978-3-527-32578-8 , pp. 40-45.
  • Friedrich Schiller : The Song of the Bell .
  • Fritz Schilling, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia , regional church council (ed.): Our bells - Thuringian bell book. Gift of the Thuringian Church to the Thuringian people. Jena 1954, DNB 454355548 .
  • Margarete Schilling : Bells. Shape, sound and ornament. Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1988, ISBN 3-364-00041-7 .
  • Margarete Schilling: Bells and carillon. Greifenverlag, Rudolstadt 1982, DNB 830104771 .
  • Ingrid Strasser: Irish in Old High German? In: Heinz Löwe (Ed.): The Irish in Europe. Teilband 1, Klett-Cotta, 1982, ISBN 3-12-915470-1 , pp. 399-422 (This article examines in detail the origin of the Old High German word glocka from the Old Irish language.).
  • Rainer Thümmel; Roy Kress; Christian Schumann: When the bells went into the field ... - The destruction of Saxon bronze bells in the First World War. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig 2017, ISBN 978-3-374-05203-5 , including a lot of information on replacement bells made of cast steel and chilled iron.
  • Rainer Thümmel: Bells in Saxony - sound between heaven and earth. Edited by the Evangelical Regional Church Office of Saxony with a foreword by Jochen Bohl . Photos: Klaus-Peter Meißner. 2nd, updated and supplemented edition. Leipzig 2015, ISBN 978-3-374-02871-9 , 432 pp.
  • Karl Walter : Bell customer. Published by Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg / Rome 1913, DNB 361836716 .
  • Jörg Wernisch: Investigations on church bells with special consideration of the sound behavior, the construction and the material influences. Dissertation . TU Vienna, 2004, urn : nbn: at: at-ubtuw: 1-9464 .
  • Literature list of the German Bell Museum (PDF; 1.2 MB). December 7, 2010.

About bell clappers

  • Ernst Fauer: To dimension the curtain of a bell clapper . In: Manfred Steinbach; Association of Technology History in Jena e. V. (Hrsg.): Jena yearbook on technology and industrial history . tape 14 . Vopelius, Jena 2010, p. 395-406 .

About bell scratch drawings

  • Cornelius Gurlitt : St. Thomas Church. In:  Descriptive representation of the older architectural and art monuments of the Kingdom of Saxony. 17th booklet: City of Leipzig (Part I) . CC Meinhold, Dresden 1895, p. 58.
  • Cornelius Gurlitt : Panitzsch. In:  Descriptive representation of the older architectural and art monuments of the Kingdom of Saxony. 16. Issue: Amtshauptmannschaft Leipzig (Leipzig Land) . CC Meinhold, Dresden 1894, p. 89.
  • Kurt Hübner: The medieval bell carvings (= writings on art history. Issue 12). Berlin 1968, DNB 457036214 .
  • Ingrid Schulze: Incised drawings by lay hands - drawings by medieval sculptors and painters? Figural bell scratch drawings from the late 13th century to around 1500 in central and northern Germany. Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-939404-95-0 .

Media combination

  • Constanze Treuber, Peter Oehlmann: Cast diversity. Bells in Saxony-Anhalt. Ed .: Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Hinstorff, Rostock 2007, ISBN 978-3-356-01180-7 (book and CD with bell recordings).

Sound carrier

  • Kurt Kramer: Bells and chimes in Europe. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-422-06016-2 (CD with text booklet).
  • Kurt Kramer (Hrsg.): The German bell landscapes. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 1989/1990.


Web links

Commons : Bells  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: bell  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Church bell  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Bell  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Suetonius : Divus Augustus 91.2: Cum dedicatam in Capitolio aedem Tonanti Iovi assidue frequentaret, somniavit queri Capitolinum Iovem cultores sibi abduci seque respondisse Tonantem pro ianitore ei appositum; idque mox tintinnabulis fastigium aedis redimiit, quod ea fere ianus dependebant ("During the period in which he often visited a temple dedicated to Jupiter Tonans on the Capitol, he dreamed: The Capitoline Jupiter complains that his worshipers are withdrawn, and he [Augustus] replied that Jupiter Tonans had only been assigned to him as doorkeeper; for this reason he [Augustus] later had the gable of the temple adorned with bells, because these usually hung on the doors. ")
  2. Alexander Armbruster: The Power of Church Bells FAZ, December 9, 2008.
  3. ^ Hauke ​​Goos: Heavenly Noise , Der Spiegel, December 4, 2006.
  4. Gerhard Eis : On 'Kudrun' Str. 1109: "glocken spîse" and "spânicz messe". In: Studia neophilologica. Volume 30, 1958, No. 1, pp. 27-29 (to Kudrun, stanza 1109: “You anchors, the anchors of îsen wouldn’t be struck, by bells spîse gozzen, as we hear, they would be bound by the Spanish messe guoten heroes the magnêten does not harm customers. ”).
  5. Hans-Gerd Rincker: The bell casting. In: Kurt Kramer (arr./Hrsg.): Bells in past and present. Contributions to bells. Advisory committee for the German bell system. Volume 1. Badenia-Verlag, Karlsruhe 1986.
  6. Sebastian Step: Bochum Association for Cast Steel Manufacture, Bells and Peals. Preliminary complete list for the area of ​​the Federal Republic of Germany with an appendix of the most important foreign bells. Trier 2007.
  7. ↑ Individual bells and full bells of the Peterskirche Albisheim (video and sound recording) on YouTube
  8. Hubert Foersch: Limburger bells book. P. 1071.
  9. Special bells. In: Retrieved February 28, 2015 .
  10. Ernst Fauer: Chilled iron bells from the Ulrich & Weule bell foundry . In: Apoldaer Geschichtsverein e. V. (Hrsg.): Apoldaer Heimat - Contributions to the nature and local history of the city of Apolda and its surroundings . Issue 36. Apolda 2018, p. 35-41 .
  11. Sebastian Step: The bell system of the Luther Church in Erfurt. An expert opinion. Manuscript, Trier 1997.
  12. Hubert Foersch: Limburger bells book. P. 215.
  13. Hubert Foersch: Limburger bells book. P. 1074.
  14. ^ History of the Rincker foundry on their website
  15. Bell accident: The clapper of the “Electress” breaks in Bonn Minster. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on December 28, 2014 ; accessed on May 1, 2016 .
  16. Bell fittings. Retrieved July 20, 2017 .
  17. suspension
  18. The Tuba Dei - a famous large bell in Toruń, Poland
  19. Schrey: The electrically rang bells of the Georgenkirche in Berlin. In: Centralblatt der Bauverwaltung , Berlin, February 19, 1898, XVIII. Volume, No. 8, p. 91 f. online (accessed on March 13, 2012)
  20. N. N .: Bell ringing works. In: Centralblatt der Bauverwaltung . Berlin March 12, 1924, Volume 44, No. 11, p. 86 f. ( [accessed on March 13, 2012]).
  21. List of chimes in the Archdiocese of Cologne ( Memento from October 6, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). (PDF; 405 kB). In: , September 24, 2013, accessed on October 9, 2019.
  23. Margarete Schilling: Bells from Apolda . Apolda 1986, p. 32.
  24. ^ Ingrid Schulze: Incised drawings by lay hands - drawings by medieval sculptors and painters? Figural carved bell drawings from the late 13th century to around 1500 in central and northern Germany. Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-939404-95-0 .
  25. Kurt Hübner: The medieval bell carvings. Berlin 1968, DNB 457036214 .
  26. Ingrid Schulze: The scratch drawings on the medieval church bells at Panitzsch. In: Holger Zürch : High altitude cure for the high priest - The Panitzsch church and its extensive renovation in 2006. Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-86703-217-3 , pp. 113–128.
  27. Heiner, Die Stadtillustrierte von Darmstadt, August 2008, pp. 11 and 16.
  28. Andreas Heinz: The meaning of the bell in the light of the medieval rite of the consecration of the bell. In: Alfred Haverkamp (ed.): Information, communication and self-presentation in medieval communities. Munich 1998, pp. 41-69.
  29. Hannes Obermair , Volker Stamm : On the economy of a rural parish in the late Middle Ages. The account book of the Marienpfarrkirche Gries (Bozen) from 1422 to 1440 (= publications of the South Tyrolean Provincial Archives. 33). Athesia, Bozen 2011, ISBN 978-88-8266-381-0 , p. 38.
  30. Florian Oberchristl: Bells of the Diocese of Linz. Verlag R. Pirngruber, Linz 1941, p. 702.
  31. Martin Seidler: The Cologne cathedral bells. 2nd Edition. CD with extensive booklet, Verlag Kölner Dom, Cologne 2000.
  32. a b New clapper for the "Big Pitter" ( Memento from August 29, 2014 in the web archive ).
  33. a b A new clapper for the "big pitter": Scientists want to restore sound WDR March 26, 2013, 9:00 pm - 9:45 pm.
  34. ^ Matthias Walter: Bern cathedral bells. P. 11.
  35. Claus Peter: The cathedral to Halberstadt - bell inventory and source study. In: Kurt Kramer: Bells in the past and present. Volume 2. Badenia, Karlsruhe 1997, p. 326.
  36. Bärbel Hornemann, Friends of St. Mary's Bells e. V. Stendal: Bells of the town and council church St. Marien ( Memento from January 30th 2009 in the Internet Archive ). In: , accessed on October 9, 2019.
  37. Freiburg Minster: Minster of Our Dear Lady: The bells
  38. domradio on January 6th 2011: The silent giant
  39. The new clapper for St. Peter's Bell is here. The Cologne comeback of the year. (No longer available online.) In: November 30, 2011, archived from the original on September 3, 2014 ; accessed on October 18, 2019 (interview with bell expert Jan Hendrik Stens).
  41. Hinrich Bergmeier (Ed.): Bell concert Hoc donum. Pfau-Verlag, Saarbrücken 2001, ISBN 3-89727-143-5 .
  42. CH: “ Sound together” of 118 bells in 29 churches, orf. at. July 10, 2016 , accessed on July 10, 2016.
  43. Report on with detailed video documentation , accessed on March 28, 2017.
  44. ^ Superintendent in Sonneberg-Oberlind
  45. content text