St John’s Kirk Rings its Bells to Say THANK YOU
Many folk in Perth will remember hearing the Bells of Perth ringing out across the
City at different times over the years. Whilst the automatic playing of the bells still
happens 3 times a day (11.00 am; 1.00 pm & 3.00 pm), now with Covid, our Carillon
Recitals by the City Carilloneur, Dr Ian Cassells, will have to be on hold. However St
John’s will make sure our Bells will continue to be heard whenever possible.
We are fortunate to have quite a number of programmed Hymns and Scots Songs
that can be played on our bells, making the Bells of Perth perhaps the best heard in
Scotland. Unfortunately the playing cannot be fully automated, so whenever we can,
a varied Programme of music will be played.
There are so many people who are working hard to keep us well, safe and fed who
deserve our thanks. Quite rightly folk are coming out to applaud our brave and
wonderful NHS staff, the Ambulance, Fire and Police Services, the army of Carers,
and Social Services. Suddenly none of us are taking the supermarkets so much for
granted, along with their Till Operators and Delivery Drivers. Perhaps less visible are
all the essential people like bin men or those who keep our water, heat and power
working, to mention just a few.
Over the coming weeks we will include at the end of all our Bell ringing,
Auld Lang Syne to say a big THANK YOU to everyone whose work is so
vital to us all.
We will then finish our Bell ringing with Abide With Me, as a Blessing and
a Benediction to everyone in our community.
You may know these words well already :
ABIDE with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide:
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes,
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life and death, O Lord, abide with me.
Words : Henry Francis Lyte: 1793- 1847
Music : William Henry Monk : 1823 - 1889
Carillon CD ' The Bells of Perth'
A CD featuring the musical bells of St John’s Kirk is now available.
It features a variety of tunes played by carillonneur Dr Ian Cassells on the Kirk’s 63 bells. As part of a digital heritage project, it is the first time since the seventies that Perth’s largest musical instrument has been recorded
University music and audio engineering students and staff at Perth College UHI used their skills to produce the digital recording.
Nick Green, Audio Engineering and Theatre Arts sector manager explained “St John’s contains one of the best Carillons in Scotland, if not the UK. With so few chromatic playable instruments left, our students (Brian Connor, Luke Duffin, Micah Nye (BSc Audio Engineering) and Rowan Parker (MMus music)) had a rare opportunity to grow their experience of location recording in a diverse setting and learned how to deal with individual challenges that may be presented on a project.”
Peter Honeyman, Creative and Cultural Industries Subject Network Leader at the University of the Highlands and Islands, added: “I first came across this terrific instrument in Perth nearly fifteen years ago.
The local digital heritage archive project is a piece of our communities’ musical history the university is proud to be part of. Additionally, we now have an archive record of each bell which can be used in sound design, music composition and performance teaching and future research.”
Each bell was recorded individually for archival purposes. Some of the bells date to the late Medieval period, with research suggesting the largest of the bells was cast in Scotland in about 1340.
The CD is highly acclaimed, described by a Cambridge campanologist as “unquestionably the best recording of bells (of any type) that I have heard. The clarity, presence, sonority and beautiful reverb decay have been captured perfectly, and the elimination of distracting sounds from the town and mechanism of the carillon makes this a reference recording. Huge congratulations to all involved. Dr. Cassell's arrangements and delivery of pieces well known, and less known, are wonderful and bring to life this unique musical instrument, which deserves the wider audience that this CD will bring”.
Anyone wishing to purchase this CD should send an email to