Bells have been rung as part of Christian ritual for centuries: they have summoned the faithful to worship since the 4th century, and the bells of St. Mary’s have done so since the Cathedral was opened in 1879.
The passing bell seeks prayers for someone passing to another life, and the tolling bell mourns their death. Bells also celebrate joyous occasions: they announce Sunday morning Eucharist and the Cathedral bells also ring regularly for weddings and on special occasions such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
We have a very fine peal of twelve bells, and are the only twelve-bell church-tower in Scotland; indeed, St Mary's has the most northerly twelve-bell church-tower in the world. The St Mary’s bells are in the key of B; the smallest bell weighs just over six hundredweights, while the largest 'tenor' bell weighs a little over two tons.
The bells are rung by members of the St. Mary’s Cathedral Society of Change Ringers. The Society is responsible for maintaining the bells and ringing facilities in good working order, and providing tuition for those wishing to learn how to ring church bells.
The St. Mary’s Cathedral Society of Change Ringers
The St Mary's Cathedral Society of Change Ringers is responsible for ringing the Cathedral bells on Sunday services, weddings, funerals, and various other events.
Learning to Ring
Bell ringing is a team activity. It is a service to the Church and a fascinating and rewarding hobby. It is enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. You can learn more about bells, bell ringing and change ringing here.
History of the Bells
The bells of St. Mary’s are named in Latin. Translated into English, they are as follows, starting with the treble (the lightest) and ending with the tenor (the heaviest): Justice, Fortitude, Humility, Faith, Temperance, Patience, Holy Fear, Devotion, Hope, Peace, Joy and Charity. The bells include six of the seven virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Faith, Temperance, Hope and Charity). The missing one is Prudence.
The Ringing Room
The ringing room at St. Mary’s Cathedral has been described as “the finest ringing room in the world” and a veritable “ringing palace”, due in all probability to its size, excellent ringing circle and furnishings.
Sometimes the St Mary's bell-ringers ring 'peals', i.e. performances of changes lasting 30 minutes or more. We appreciate that this can be disturbing for local residents, as well as beautiful. We will try to post all upcoming peals here.
Upcoming peals include:
Saturday 2nd September, 10am-2pm