For decades, pedestrians who happened to be in the area around the Green at noontime or after 6 p.m. heard a familiar sound.
The electric carillon would echo familiar hymn tunes to the area. Many times people would be heard humming the familiar melodies. The chimes at the First Congregational Church of West Haven were a part of the fabric of life in the Center, pealing the hymns as well as sounding the iconic Westminister Chimes each quarter-hour.
Over the years the bells experienced the fate of all flesh, getting old and sometimes not quite doing what they were intended to do. Eventually, the familiar sounds ended, and a part of what it is to be a New England town seemed lost.
The lack of chimes from the tower at First Church didn’t go unnoticed.
Every now and then we’d get a comment from a church member, visitor or someone in the community asking why our church no longer plays bells or music,” said the pastor, the Rev. Kathryn King.
Understanding that First Church was more than just a parish community, but a landmark, the recent adoption of a parish mission plan had outreach in mind – even of the musical variety.
“Our church recently adopted a mission plan, with community outreach being at the forefront. What a wonderful way to connect with the community!” said King of a new carillon that was installed last weekend.
It was not an unpopular decision, but it did take some time.
“The pastor and the Church Council have been asking about the purchase and installation of a new carillon system for several months. The Board of Trustees did our research, selected a manufacturer, and I’m happy to say the new system was installed on Saturday, Nov. 11,” said Mike Harrington, chairman of the church’s Board of Trustees. “The new carillon will allow the community to once again enjoy hearing the familiar ring of the church bells, with strikes on time, and with bells heard occasion throughout the year with seasonal music.”
Now that the new installation was made, the only thing left was a formal dedication. That will happen in 10 days during the regular Sunday service at First Church.
“We will be unveiling the new carillon to the community during our regularly scheduled worship service on Nov. 26, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The carillon will be dedicated to the Glory of God and for the enjoyment and spiritual renewal of all. Come if you can; it is sure to be a joyous occasion,” Rev. King concluded.