“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When we want the world to know that something important has happened, we make a noise!
Whether it is a siren, clanging pots or the bells in the steeple of a church, the whole community hears about it. An ambulance or fire engine siren tells us of something catastrophic. The banging of pots may announce that a New Year has begun, or it may acknowledge the sacrifices of first line health care providers in a pandemic. For centuries, church bells have signalled worship, marked a funeral or pealed in joy at anything from a wedding to the end of a war.
In 2013, I stood in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, at the announcement of the new Pope. Immediately, the bells of every church in Rome began to peal out the good news.
During this pandemic and especially as we contemplate a Christmas isolated from many family and friends, it is still the time of celebrating the birth of Christ—a birth that changed the world. For that, we need to ring the bells!
I invite every parish with a bell, and every parishioner with a bell at home, to ring out our joy at 12 noon (in your applicable time zone) on Christmas Day. Let’s share with the world that despite all the restrictions and losses we are facing, Christ is born and hope is renewed.
And let’s extend the celebration online with our loved ones and communities—on Christmas Day, post your videos or photos on social media using the hashtag #HopeRingsOut as we celebrate the birth of Christ. Our digital team will compile the public posts available, as a reflection of our unity in faith. Posts will be collected through Sunday, December 27.
Yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada