Slowly, each of the 10 bells was hoisted by an large team of men to the Bell Tower of the Administration Building on Aug. 11, 1922.

The 10 bells of the College Chime are lined up for installation on Aug. 11, 1922.

Beth Allen '03 Dubois always closed her evening ring with "Move in our Midst" before the Doxology.

College Registrar Lila VanLue '79 Hammer plays the chime for Alumni Days and other special events.


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The Chime
Inscriptions on the 10 bells continue to ring true today


“The Chime always will remain a centerpiece of Manchester College.”
Listen to the Chime played by
Lila Van Lue '79 Hammer

Alma Mater


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Oh Come, Oh Come


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Westminster Chime


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Related links:
Memories of Chimers
Full text of bell inscriptions

More pictures from this article:


THE RINGING OF THE CHIME is one of the longest-running traditions at Manchester College. People come and go, buildings come and go, pranks and causes come and go, but the bells ring on – as they have for 87 years.

New students are surprised, visitors listen in awe, alumni reminisce, the local community nods and checks its watches, students groan to the start of a new day. The sound of the bells is woven into the culture of North Manchester and Manchester College.

“The Chime always will remain a centerpiece of Manchester
College,” said President Jo Young ’69 Switzer, who as a student
recalls proudly thinking her College was unique among colleges for
having the bells. (Her roommate, Janice Miller ’70 Hoffmann, was
a chime player.)

The 10 bells of the College Chime each are inscribed with scripture
verses or phrases that speak to the values and ideals of the College community throughout its history … values and ideals dear to the graduates and friends who raised the funds for the bells in 1922, and values and ideals important to those of us who continue to teach, encourage and guide students today:


Christian Education, Praise: Gloria Patria, Devotion, Peace,
Brotherhood, John 3:16, Hope, Faith, Evangelism, Watchfulness

The linking of the Bible School Building and Bumgardner Hall in 1920 created a spacious, updated facility named the Administration Building, with a tower. Inspired by a suggestion by Mrs. Vernon Schwalm, an alumni committee led by Aaron Ulrey in 1922 raised $8,700 for a set of bells. B.F. and Sadie Stutsman ’16 Wampler traveled to McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Md., to purchase the bells.

The Manchester College Chime consists of 10 bells, which form one octave, the flattened 7th and a major 2nd above the octave – CDEFGABflatBCD – and range from 550 to 2,650 pounds. For a chimer, it is a little unnerving to know that 5 tons of cast bronze are directly over your head.

Our bells arrived in August 1922, displayed on a special stand in front of the Administration Building. On Aug. 11, hundreds of people came to hoist the bells by ropes and pulleys to the tower.

President Otho Winger led a dedication service for the Manchester College Chime on Aug. 15, 1922.

Back then, the bells were played using a remotely placed mechanical keyboard device that had two rows of keys – one row for playing the bells loudly and one for playing them softly. Large magnets pulled down the bells, draining electricity and dimming lights anywhere near the College. Malfunctions were frequent.

Today, Manchester College chimers push hand levers in a room directly below the bells. The levers are attached to wooden rods that reach up through the ceiling and attach to chains and leather straps on the clappers. Pushing down on the levers pulls the clappers against the bells.

What a fine temptation for pranksters, is our chime! Students would dismantle the straps and levers and scatter them about campus. I would discover the straps had been rearranged, so that when I pushed a lever, the wrong bell rang. Clappers have come up mysteriously “missing,” and, of course, there was the occasional middle-of-the-night ringing of the bells.
That required quick-footed pranksters. Because the chime resonated across campus, security officers often could get to the Administration Building before the culprit could flee.

At one time, the bells were played at 6 a.m. – until neighbors complained. Now, the bells are played at 7:45 a.m. and 6 p.m.; secular music in the morning, sacred in the evening. In the 60s, the College song was played after sporting events. If played like a dirge, the College had lost. If we won, the song was played briskly, and the score was rung, too.

Through the years, the bells have been played prior to Commencement, for weddings, memorial services and special concerts for alumni or visitors.

Each chimer has favorites; and pieces we won’t play. I balked at playing “Are You Sleeping, Brother John?” in the morning. I don’t remember playing the College songs much as a student, but now they are some of my favorites. The chimers often play for someone’s birthday.

On the 20th anniversary of the original Star Wars movie, the chimer played the theme song. On opening day of baseball season, we often hear “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” (Anna Grady ’08 was particularly partial to starting our day with that tune.) Of course, everyone loves to hear Christmas songs and carols played on the bells. Sometimes, we hear them on a hot summer day. And sometimes, we hear “Summertime” on a blustery winter day.

Above the bells, on the highest point of the Administration Building, is a beautiful view of campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Until recently, we had only one chime ringer, but now several rotate so the same person does not have to get up early every day. Some change is good.

Each spring, I play the Chime for Alumni Days. It is always a bit unnerving, because there really is no way to practice in private! And one very hot August day last summer, I played Christmas songs and the College song for a recording. You can listen to some of those songs by clicking on the links in the section above.



Memories of chimers

Three-year bell-ringer Becca Kane ’07 of Indianapolis delighted in speeding through “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” She majored in small business management, played varsity basketball, excelled in track and field, and sang the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at football and basketball games. Today, she manages a Lady Foot Locker store in Indianapolis.

“I’ve been told there are professors who won’t start their 6 p.m. class until the Chime starts,” said Ben Martin ’08, who pulled the 6 p.m. shift. One student repeatedly offered Ben various amounts of cash to “take a day off.” He declined. “Joyful, Joyful,” “In the Bulb There is a Flower” and “Chariots of Fire” were among his favorites. “I’d blow through one and then be very deliberate on the next one.” Today, the environmental studies
major is with AmeriCorps, planning to train in fighting wildfires.

“The chime ringer has a lot of power to set the tone for a day on campus,” said Beth Allen ’03 Dubois, history and German major. “As a Michigander, I loved to mess with Hoosier minds and play snow-friendly tunes at questionably appropriate times. I would establish my own little signature habits, like always closing an evening ring with all three verses of ’Move in Our Midst’ before the official Doxology close.”

Allen, former Manchester College archivist, is a Barry County (Mich.) deputy county clerk. “I was always particularly attached to Manchester as an institution, so it felt really good to be able to play for important events:
graduation, the 9/11 memorial in '02, after the deaths of Karen Beery ’66 Doudt and Pat Helman.”

In this issue
We are in this together
from the president.

The Chime Inscriptions on the 10 bells continue to ring true today.

A legacy of Faith, Learning and Service
Remembering President A. Blair Helman.

International consciousness
Expanding MC horizons on campus and abroad.

The PERC pulses with activity
Bulging at the girders with Spartans, intramurals, classes.

Not your parents' P.E. class
Exercise and sport sciences bring new career opportunities.

Manchester in the spotlight
New initiatives put College in national media.

Profiles of ability and conviction


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