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When will the carillon bells at First Presbyterian Church start ringing again?

Amanda Greene

If you’ve been missing the bell renditions of standard church hymns such as “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” from the Gothic tower at First Presbyterian Church downtown, you only have to wait a few more weeks.

The church discontinued its daily carillon bells presentation in March 2009 when it began masonry renovations to the facade of the church.

“We had to take out the bells for the renovations and had to replace the bracket that holds all the speakers in,” said facilities manager Gary Southerland. “It’s a custom-made metal box, and we just got it back.”

Most of the renovations are done on the church’s main chapel and are continuing in the back of the building now. The church hopes to take down its scaffolding in the next month.

But did you know that the carillon bells at First Presbyterian aren’t really physical bells? What we hear may sound like a massive bell choir ringing throughout downtown Wilmington. But the “bells” are an electronic carillon, speakers that play tapes of carillon bell music.

“There are chime bars that ring when it strikes the hour. The speaker makes them sound like big bells. But the hymns are a recorded tape,” said Doug Leightenheimer, First Presbyterian’s music director.

For many years, until his death this August, longtime church member Bob McBane switched out the carillon tapes for the church.

The carillon system has tapes that aren’t made anymore, Leightenheimer added. Some of the tapes are seasonal music for Advent or Easter. Some tapes are patriotic. But most of the music is gospel or traditional church hymns.

User-contributed question by:
Bruce McGuire
Bruce McGuire
Bruce McGuire

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One Response to “ When will the carillon bells at First Presbyterian Church start ringing again?”

  1. On January 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm Michael wrote:

    I’m not sure what the point of recorded taped bells is. It’s a little like planting a garden with artificial flowers.

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