Twin Steeples

of the
Cathedral
Cathedral of Cologne

The sight of church spires above a lifting fog is most inspiring. On some gloriously brisk October mornings, they seem to lift through the clouds into the heavens. Were I still teaching the history of the Church, as I once did as a schoolmaster at Christian Center Academy, I would be tempted into an obvious play upon words: the church spire is inspiring. Two of them are inspiration multiplied in the eyes of the beholder. He gazes at them in the distance and longs to see them up close. Perhaps he shall climb their steps and see the world as the steeples "see" from on-high ... a kind of angel's view, I guess. Thus are twin steeples inspiring and they give to our cathedral souls holy aspirations. To those inward spires we give bodily representation when we either place our palms together or raise our arms in prayer and praise.

To Reach up to Heaven: The brilliance of the sun which pours down upon our twin spires is pictured both in its hardening of the clay into bricks for a soul's imprisonment and, at the same time, melting the wax mold from around a glorious statue of winged victory!

1. Oh Lord our Lord who riseth upon all hearts like the noonday sun, have mercy upon us for we would, with our uplifted arms, rejoice in The Son of Righteousness who has risen to dispel the darkness of all sin and shame.

2. The rebel against God's love is like impure mud which hardens as the Lord sends down His love, His own "spiritual sunshine". If the soul chooses to spurn His compassion, it is like clay and hardens into bricks. These bricks build prison walls around us for we will not let God's sun purify; we resist it as does the clay. Oh how we need to be molded by Him that all our resistance might melt away as does a wax mold under the warmth of the sun. Then, like some great and noble statue, we shall be released from all that encumbers our love to Him. We pray Thee to accept our lives as we lift them up unto Thee.

3. Oh have mercy, warm and soften our hearts toward Thee for we were redeemed that we may surely ascend at the General Resurrection.

4. Grant, oh merciful Christ, that being winged with Thy graces we may at the last fly from our dark imprisonments, that we may reach through the clouds of our mortality and touch the Face of God.

The Cathedral bells: From out the spires of our cathedral souls can come down music of Heaven, down, down into our poor, mean world if only we will proclaim Him in our conversations and with our daily lives by example.


Change Ringing

I would have us think of the custom in the United Kingdom of "change ringing" for our Anglican brothers and sisters have never thought that merely playing tunes, however sacred, appropriate to the Ascended Christ to whom the bell towers point. Upon the bells, be they in the humblest English village church or the great Cathedral of Canterbury itself, they "change ring" (See Note) with glorious ascending and descending chimes upon the various bells in those belfry towers. (Note: As the the bells are played, the bell ringers switch bells causing crescendos and melodic descents as the various bells, after a pattern formed by those who play them, bring forth what seems to be a rising into the heavens of the church's prayers and the descent of angels with His blessings in response.) Each bell has been given its own name because of their distinctive pitch and resonance. Dorothy L. Sayers' tremendous mystery book, The Nine Tailors, brilliantly describes what I am trying to relate here. I will quote a bit from her book. The bells are referred to as "tailors". (from Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors, pp. 26, 50 published by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. New York: copyright 1962 by Lloyds Bank Limited)

"He spat upon his hands, grasped the sallie of Tailor Paul, and gently swung the great bell over the balance.

Toll-toll-toll; and a pause; toll-toll-toll; and a pause; toll-toll-toll; the nine tailors, or teller-strokes, that mark the passing of a man. The year is dead; toll him out with twelve strokes more, one for every passing month. Then silence. Then, from the faint sweet tubular chimes of the clock overhead, the four quarters and the twelve strokes of midnight. The ringers grasped their ropes.

'Go!'

The bells gave tongue: Gaude, Sabaoth, John, Jericho, Jubilee, Dimity, Batty Thomas, and Tailor Paul, rioting and exulting high up in the dark tower, wide mouths rising and falling, brazen tongues clamouring, huge wheels turning to the dance of the leaping ropes. Tin tan din dan bim bam bom bo -- tan tin dan bam bim bo bom -- tin tan dan din bim bam bom bo -- tan tin dan din bam bim, bo bom -- tan dan tin bam din bo bim bom -- every bell in her place striking tuneably, hunting up, hunting down, dodging, snapping, laying her blows behind, making her thirds and fourths, working down to lead the dance again. Out over the flat, white wastes of fen, over the spear- straight, steel-dark dykes and the wind-bent, groaning poplar trees, bursting from the snow-choked louvres of the bellfry, whirled away southward and westward in gusty blasts of clamour to the sleeping counties went the music of the bells -- little Gaude, silver Sabaoth, strong John and Jericho, glad Jubilee, sweet Dimity and old Batty Thomas, with great Tailor Paul bawling and striding like a giant in the midst of them. Up and down went the shadows of the ringers upon the walls, up and down went the scarlet sallies flickering roofwards and floorwards, and up and down, hunting in their courses, went the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul."

Ms. Sayers shares with us the mathematical music of the changers (bell- ringers) from an old bellringers' manual. Like all of the law and beauty of this amazing universe, of a great Cathedral, of our redeemed souls, of some symphonic masterpiece by Mozart or Beethoven there is music in the spheres, symphonic mathematics underlying all that God has created and all that we are. From the manual:

5,040

By the part ends

First Half

246375
267453
275634
253746
235476
Second Half

257364
276543
264735
243657
234567

2nd The Observation

Call her: 1st Half
Out of the hunt, wrong, right, middle,
wrong, right, middle
and into the hunt
(4 times repeated).

2nd Half

Out of the hunt, wrong, right, middle
wrong, right, in and out at 5,
wrong and into the hunt
(4 times repeated).

The last call in each half is single;
Holt's Single must be used in ringing this peal.



Glen's commentary upon the bell changes:

And of the resonances of our souls and the harmonies that Christ has placed therein I would now speak. If, spire-like, we lift up our hearts unto the Lord and proclaim Him with our uplifted voices: then, as we worship on Sundays the words take on new and vital meanings: "Lift up thine hearts! We lift them up unto the Lord!" There shall be more and more a Heavenly harmony to our living no matter how difficult any given day may seem. Our lives can be melodies if we speak forth the peace of Christ not only at worship service but also in our beloved homes.

From my sermon:

To whom are you looking this day? Have you grown hardened and scornful of this fallen old world. Are you, on the other hand, looking with some sort of hope to some passing celebrity? They, of course, shall pass away as will our generation from this vain planet of poor fallen men.

Where then ought we look? Look up! Not so much to the skies as to the twin spires of prayer and reverence at the front of your cathedral soul. Recall the words of Moses when the disobedient Israelites were afflicted by fiery serpent: God had asked him to do a rather unusual thing but with our Christian hindsight we understand that what Moses lifted was representative of the sins of the world that Christ would take upon Himself when crucified: Numbers 21:5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. 10 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth. 11 And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Ijeabarim, in the wilderness which is before Moab, toward the sunrising. 12 From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.

Had the Israelites done the typically human thing they would all have died of snake venom. Had they not looked up but look at their fellow sufferers they would have despaired and died ... had they looked in judgment upon Moses and not at the symbol they would have died. No, as it has been s aid, "Look up and live!"

And what shall we gaze upon except the Christ who was lifted upon the cross to cure us of that serpent, the devil's venomous sin. He said to us, (John 3) 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The Twin Belfries Proclaim Christ's Humanity and His Divinity
(adapted from an ancient hymn by Glen Davis)

The Two Spires

Thou who art by Thy self-existence
perfect God, didst abound in compass-
Sion for our frailty, and took upon
Thyself our similitude to be an
abode for Thy Divinity, raising it
and nailed to the cross: Thou didst
yield it up unto death, thereby giv-
ing us life:
Thou didst raise up our humanity
again and conquering death and
Hades seated it in the heavens,far
above the highest dominions and
powers. Alleluia!
Hear our prayers unto Thee.
Amen.

Thou wast in the bosom of Thy Father before all worlds, from everlasting,
Thou being truly God,


Thou camest unto us in the fulfillment of time, took our body upon Thyself,
and therewith redeemed us,
Thou being truly Man.

The prophets declared Thee in their visions, and the righteous typified Thee,
Thou being truly God,
Thou wast in the womb for nine months, and wast born as a man,
Thou being truly Man.

The angels praised Thee,
Thou being truly God,
Thou wast laid in a manger,
Thou being truly Man.

The star declared Thee,
Thou being truly God,
Thou wast suckled at the breast,
Thou being truly Man.

The Persian Magi brought unto Thee precious gifts and offerings,
Thou being truly God,
Thou submitted to be circumcised, and Thou didst offer sacrifices in the temple,
according to the Law,
Thou being truly Man.

Simeon called Thee, ' the Light of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel,'
Thou being truly God,
Thou didst flee into Egypt from the hands of the cruel and impious Herod,
Thou being truly Man.

The shepherds hastened to worship Thee, and adored Thee bending over their staffs,
Thou being truly God,
Thou wast nurtured, and grew in stature, and in wisdom, and in the Divine grace,
Thou being truly Man.

Thou didst turn the water into wine, and the guests drank thereof, and praised Thy name,
Thou being truly God,
Thou wast baptized in the Jordan,
Thou being truly Man.

The heavens were opened unto Thee,
Thou being truly God,
The Father openly declared Thee,
Thou being truly Man.

The Spirit descended upon Thee,
Thou being truly God,
Thou didst fast and were tempted,
Thou being truly Man.

Thou didst confound the wicked one,
Thou being truly God,

Thou enterest the abode of Levi, of Zacchaeus, and of Simon, and ate and drank at the
feast and supper,
Thou being truly Man.

Thou healeth the sick and infirm, cleanseth the lepers, and giveth sight to the blind,
Thou being truly God,
Thou went out to a mountain to pray, and continued in prayer until dawn,
Thou being truly Man.

The One Sure Call, The Bells Ring Out:

The bells of Christendom ring out,
from steeples topped cathedral spires
unto the smallest mission hut,
resounding,
sounding,
clearer
clear:
Come pray, this day!
come pray,
come pray,
Peace!
Peace!
Peace!



And so Christ calls us to become prayerful souls by His grace -- hear Him! "If anyone would come after me let him take up his cross and follow Me." What way is that than the way of prayer? What cross but the burden He shares with us down here? We are redeemed souls and so we are spiritually cross- shaped: we are people of the cross. The prayerful life is well described by St. Paul as, "I am crucified with Christ" and "for me to live is Christ, for me to die is gain." --Glenwood

Next, Cathedral Cross

Back to Table of Contents