With great joy, we announce that the external construction of our Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Harvard Road is now complete. Through the generous support of benefactors, during the winter months the belfry was added to the west façade of the Cathedral.
On behalf of the parish and with the blessing of Archbishop Mark, the benefactors commissioned the Litex Bell Foundry in Moscow to cast nine bells for installation in our newly constructed belfry. Litex has supplied bells for more than 400 churches and monasteries in Russia and abroad, including Diveevo Monastery at Borodino, the Church of St George the Trophy-Bearer on Poklonaya Hill in Moscow (an important memorial to the victory and to the heroes of World War II); Peter and Paul at Prokhorovka (the largest battlefield in world history); the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery in Zvenigorod (where the Great Uspenski bell once resided); Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, Dormition Church of the Svyatogorsky Monastery in Ukraine, and many, many others— indeed from Vladivostok in the far east to Ukraine in the far west, and from Surgut in the far north to Stavropol in the far south.
The peal of nine bells is organised into three categories:
- Group 1 comprises the melodic bells: three small bells, weighing 8, 12 and 18 kilogrammes, each decorated with four symmetrical oval icons and floral patterns.
- Group 2 comprises the supporting bells: five medium bells, weighing 35, 36, 80, 140 and 270 kilogrammes respectively, each decorated with four symmetrical icons and floral patterns. However, the bell weighing 270 kg additionally has an inscription at the top: “Not to us, Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give glory.” (Psalm 113:9) The icons of this bell include the Hospitality of Abraham (centre); Saint Seraphim of Sarov (right); Saint Sergius of Radonezh (left); Saint Wenceslaus (reverse). Below is the name of the Cathedral together with the names of the benefactors.
- Group 3 comprises one large bass bell, weighing 450 kilogrammes, the height being 930 millimetres and the diameter being 912 millimetres. The top inscription reads: “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live, I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 103:33). The icons comprise the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God (centre); Saint John of Shanghai (right); the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia (left); and the Crucifixion of Christ (reverse). At the bottom of the bell is the name and location of the Cathedral, the year of Our Lord AD 2013 (in Slavonic numerals) and the inscription: “Cast with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain.”
The nine bells arrived in London from Russia in Holy Week. The hanging of the bells took one day, with the assistance of an expert in bell hanging, who came from Russia, and with the use of a crane. The Deputy Rector, Archpriest Vladimir Vilgerts blessed the bells, some of which were first rung during the solemn procession of the Holy Plaschenitsa on the evening of Great and Holy Friday. The full peal of bells was heard for the first time in all its joyful glory during the midnight procession on the feast of Great and Holy Pascha, 2013.
Bells in the Orthodox Church
Bells are one of the most essential elements of an Orthodox church. The ringing of bells has three main purposes. Firstly, they are used to summon the faithful to the divine services. Secondly, the ringing of the bells expresses the triumphal joy of the Church and Her divine services. Thirdly, they announce to those not present in the church the times of especially important moments in the services.