Living in Aynho

Published on April 15th, 2020 | by Content Admin


The Carillon – Music from the Church Tower

The Carillon at St Michael’s Church

During the fine weather last week, the week preceding Easter, and with the wind back to its prevailing SW direction suddenly we could hear the chimes coming from St Michael’s Church – and different to the main clock simply chiming the hour in its usual normal slightly late fashion!

It was not just because of the relative quiet on the roads and the skies above, it was also because the chimes had been turned back on by the Churchwarden! 

The chimes are switched off by the Church during Lent from Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day in February until 40 days later, Palm Sunday.

What makes the chimes and why are they different each day?

You might have wondered whether you were hearing the same musical tunes, or wondering which hour, or whether you had missed something! So here is a brief explanation.

The clock in the Church tower also serves a ‘carillon’ movement.  A carillon is a musical instrument with a set of fixed chromatically tuned bells sounded by hammers controlled from a keyboard. In Aynho’s case it has a set of pins for seven tunes using the ring of the eight bells in the tower.

The pins are set on a rotating drum which moves sideways a fraction of an inch at the end of each day to bring a new set of pins into use. At the end of the week the drum returns to its starting position.

All this now happens automatically though when wound by hand in years gone by it ran for only 12 hours if set to play at 3 hour intervals.

The times now set are 9.00am, 12 noon, 3.00pm and 6.00pm each day (it does not chime at night):

Sunday – We Love the place, O God

Monday – God moves in a mysterious way

Tuesday – Life let us cherish

Wednesday – At the name of Jesus

Thursday – Bluebells of Scotland

Friday – Sweet the Moment

Saturday – Home sweet Home

So there is a different tune every day of the week – and the four times you hear it each day it is playing the same tune. If you hear the odd missed sound that is because the pins are a bit worn and not every pin achieves a perfect strike on every occasion, which is understandable for an instrument which has been playing in Aynho for 110 years.

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