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Clock chime

A clock chime is a melody played at intervals, usually during or on the hour, to mark the passage of time. Clock chimes are often played by grandfather clocks, carillons, or bell towers. A variety of melodies exist, many associated with a particular location or bell tower that originated them.[1]


The practice of using bells to mark time dates at least to the time of the early Christian church, which used bells to mark the "canonical hours".[2] An 8th-century Archbishop of York gave his priests instructions to sound church bells at certain times, and by the 10th century Saint Dunstan had written an extensive guide to bell-ringing to mark the canonical hours.[3] Henry Beuchamp Walters' "Bells of England" features an entire chapter devoted to the regional variation in what bells were rung, how often, and what events they signaled throughout medieval England.

It is from these practices that clock chimes seem to have eventually emerged.[4] Clock towers that chimed on the hour appeared in Italy by the 13th century,[5] and they were common enough by the 15th that in 1463 the Englishman John Baret willed funds to the sexton of St. Mary's Church so that he would "keep the clock, take heed to the chimes, [and] wind up the pegs and the plummets as often as need is". [6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mallory, Steven R. (May 2015). "A Compilation of Clock Chimes & Sequences" (PDF). NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  2. ^ Coleman, Satis Narrona (1928). "Bells: their history, legends, making, and uses". Rand, McNally & Company. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ Walters, Henry Beauchamp (1928). "Church Bells of England". Oxford University Press. p. 13. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  4. ^ Ilich, Ivan (2001). "The Loudspeaker on the Tower" (PDF). Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ Walters, Henry Beauchamp (1928). "Church Bells of England". Oxford University Press. p. 173. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  6. ^ Walters, Henry Beauchamp (1928). "Church Bells of England". Oxford University Press. p. 111. Retrieved December 26, 2016.