Historic Bell Peals For Advent

Posted: Dec 01, 2014

Our 121-year-old bell will peal daily at noon during Advent, through Dec. 24, calling the community to prayer.

The bell has been mostly silent for decades except for an infrequent ceremonial toll produced by manually pulling the bell’s rope. The bell’s motor and timer were recently repaired, making it possible for it once again to peal automatically on a daily basis.

The bell resides in the Lark Academic Building tower, an iconic structure in northwest Lancaster City built in 1894. The bell was made for the Pennsylvania State Building, a replica of Independence Hall, at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, popularly known as the Chicago World’s Fair. During the exposition, the bell pealed every hour for a year.

According to an article in the May 8, 1894 Gettysburg Compiler, “The bell is the gift of Mr. Jacob Y. Dietz of Philadelphia who has been one of the most generous contributors to the building fund, having before this donated several thousand dollars.”

The bell is inscribed with Mr. Dietz’s name. Cast into the bell are the words: Pennsylvania State Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893.

Dr. David Mellott, Dean of the Seminary, says, “Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, is a season that seeks to remind us of how much we are waiting on God to act in our world, to appear once again in our midst. At the Seminary, our common prayer text each noon will be Luke 1:46-55, often called the Magnificat, Mary’s memorable proclamation of faith spoken while Mary was visiting her expectant cousin, Elizabeth.

“Mary has been a powerful image of the Advent season, a faithful daughter of Israel who was aware that the world was in desperate need of justice, mercy, and peace. The world needed to be transformed by God. And it continues to need transformation.”

Dr. Mellott hopes the bell’s peal will serve as a gentle, melodious reminder to pause and reflect during this pre-Christmas period.