It’s a puzzle to me…

February 26, 2010

We live a few blocks from the main Cathedral here in Mazatlán, and we sleep with a window open.  I love the sound of the bells and I’ve gotten so I rely on them to tell me the time since I no longer wear a watch! 

Here’s what I hear pretty much every day (and night):

2 AM:  A light wind-chime sound and then two gongs

3 AM:  A light wind-chime sound and then three gongs

4 AM:  A light wind-chime sound and then four gongs

5 AM:  A light wind-chime sound and then five gongs

6 AM: A light wind-chime sound and then nine gongs

6:15 AM:  Random number of gongs

6:30 AM:  Random number of gongs

7:00 AM:  A light wind-chime sound and then ten gongs; then a song (we call it Red River Valley)

9:00 AM: A light wind-chime sound and then some gongs, not always nine; then a song

12:00 Noon:  A light wind-chime sound and then twelve gongs; then the song Avé Maria

3 pm:  A song

6 pm:  A song

I have tried to figure out the rhyme or reason of some of the random bell ringing and have been unsuccessful.  From Wiki Answers I found some information helpful – here’s a snippet:

regarding bell ringing in Catholic Churches:

The bells are rung (i) to summons parishioners to Mass (ii) to announce the Angelus at noon and at 6pm (iii) as part of a Funeral service (iv) to celebrate the church’s Patron Saint…. and at Weddings.

To summons parishioners to Mass, the bell is normally rung 15 minutes prior to the time of the Mass. The amount of times the bell is sounded is of personal choice of the bell ringer or with the advice of the parish priest. Normally around 15 times. However, a lot depends on the location of any neighbors. Not everybody likes the ringing of church bells at 7 am on a Sunday morning!

The Angelus bell is rung at 12 midday and at 6pm. It has 18 rings> one two three:- short pause;- one two three;- short pause;- one two three:- short pause and then nine times.

The bell at a funeral is again as normal for summonsing the faithful : and also at the end of the funeral mass, as the coffin is carried down the church : and it is customary for the bell maintain ringing until the hearse has departed from the church (or if the cemetary is alongside the church – until the pall bearers reach the grave. This bell is rung slowly, not at the pace of a ”summonsing to church bell”. So, when at the end of the funeral mass, the pall bearers lift the coffin onto their shoulders ( or the coffin is wheeled down the aisle) the bell should be rung slowly : ring count to 15 ring and so on…….

That explained why sometimes the church bells bang on and on for minutes on end – that a funeral was departing from the church.

I enjoy listening to the bells throughout the day, and even in the middle of the night I like to hear that gentle  – gong – gong – and know that I have lots of sleeping time left.


Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. In Yahualica, both of the bells ring when someone has died. The priest is summoned to give the last rites, and he then lets the bell ringers know that someone has died. Whenever we hear that the bells are “doblando”, we know that someone in town has died.

    1. Several times we rented a house in SMA that backed up to a church. The first few nights the bells would sometimes wake us as they rang every 15 minutes. But after a few nights we adjusted and if you heard them they were like a clock to tell you the time. The night bells were electronic and once when we were in this house they broke. We kept waking up during the night to listen for the bells and really missed them.

    1. The part that cracks me up is here in Xico the different capillas and iglesias bell ringers seem to occasionally get into a bell ringing competition – almost like jazz musicians: one plays a riff and then another tries to embellish or work from that. Don’t try and figure that out however – it gets complex and occasionally comical 😉

    1. That’s one of my favorite churches, and I’ve promised myself to explore it inside next time I’m in Maz.

    1. When someone dies in my neighborhood, the church bell down on the plaza rings once about every ten seconds all night long and often into the day. I like it. Of course, that´s because I never know the deceased.

      1. Billie, I love the sound, too. They stopped playing the songs for a while in the summer and we really noticed the absence.

        John, I can imagine that would be pretty funny – doesn’t happen here though because the main Cathedral trumps all, I think. Just two blocks away from us is the oldest church in Mazatlan, Templo San Jose – but I never notice the bells coming from there.

        1st Mate, I’ll go with you!

        Felipe, Wow, I hope that is a tape recording or someone would get awfully tired. It must be a comfort to some to be remembered like that all day long.

Comments are closed.