The 47 bells of the carillon rang for the first time at Christmas, 2005. The bell tower was dedicated on Palm Sunday, 2006, to the glory of God. The story is well known. With the Great Depression looming in 1927, the people of Central Lutheran Church barely had enough money to finish the new cathedral-like sanctuary.
The bell tower, designed as part of the new structure in 1926, would have to wait. The wait would span generations. It would be nearly 80 years before the bell tower would rise 149 feet—thanks to the anonymous gift of a Central member. That gift also provided for a carillon of 47 bells, cast in Annecy, France by the Fonderie Paccard, a 250 year old bell-making firm.
Today, that gift to Central is also a landmark gift to the city. On occasion it is played manually on its authentic carillon keyboard up in the playing cabin on the 6th floor of the bell tower. Our annual summer series of live carillon concerts, feature members of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America and other carillonners from around the world
A Minnesota rarity
A carillon, as officially described by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, is “a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of bells arranged in chromatic series and played from a keyboard permitting control of expression through variation of touch.” As such Central’s carillon of 47 bells is one of but three in Minnesota. The other two are at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester (56 bells) and House of Hope Presbyterian Church in Saint Paul (49 bells).
There are also five of what are termed “cast bell instruments with electric keyboards” at Breck School (23 bells), North Hennepin Community College (25) and St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral (24) in Minneapolis; Schonlau Park Plaza (37) in New Ulm; and the Church of St. Louis, King of France (24) in Saint Paul. In addition, there is a collection of 15 bells in the tower at Minneapolis City Hall, which can also be played from an electric keyboard.