Last night, I was ten minutes late for bellringing practice. With my hood up, I walked through the rain, listening to the rounds and call changes. I could tell a couple of the learners were ringing: there was too big a gap between some of the bells near the back, then a bit of clashing. It still sounded beautiful, most especially because the bells had been half-muffled, ready for the Remembrance Day service on Sunday. A piece of soft leather is tied to one side of each clapper to soften the sound on the back-stroke. The street lamps kept catching the layer of bright leaves on the pavement, as a haunting sound came from the bell tower. First, the sound of six bells, then a strange echo, like the faint sound of a piano up in an attic room.
We only ring half-muffled for Remembrance Day and for the few funerals where ringing takes place. I always find it strangely beautiful and moving.