Sounds Pleasant To The Ear!

I don’t think there is a person alive who doesn’t love the sound of church chimes. They sound-out to call the faithful to worship. Long ago, this act required that a bell ringer run to the church to perform this duty, and to be there on time.Today is so different. The lovely, clear sounds of church bells are possible from a solid state, digital system.

Church bells became common in Europe in the early Middle Ages. At one time, virtually every church and cathedral throughout Europe had church bells. Before mass- communication the only way to gather a village together was to ring the church bells. If

Large cast bronze bells.

a death were announced, it was known as a “death knell”. Many times the bells were blessed by anointing them with oil. Prayers were often said asking that the sound of the bells would put demons to flight, protect from storms and call the faithful to prayer. Imagine hanging these heavy bells. No songs were played by them. This would require a bell for each note. “Change Ringing” is a particular facet of English bell ringing where bells are rung in mathematical sequence. A few years ago, we heard a performance of “Change Ringing” in a church in Frederick, MD, and found it to be very interesting, and quite unusual!

Bell ringers at work.

Now we are to the place where I will talk about my husband. I often mention him in shirlandyou. Having been married sixty years, one is incomplete without the other and no matter what I write about he fits in the story, somewhere. This time I will devote most of this blog to him because he recently completed a project which involved designing and implementing a church chime system. You may think that sounds interesting, but surely not the thing most men would spend time doing. Burl Updyke is not the average man. He is the one who established a local newspaper in his community, now known as Suburban News. He learned the ropes of publishing including the technical end, and worked, installed and repaired type setting machines, equipped dark rooms, etc. He is actually a self taught licensed broadcast engineer and had previously worked ten years as a television engineer at WBRE TV. After serving 20 years in the newspaper business, he moved on to a calling he believed God led him to, the building and establishing of WRGN-FM Christian radio, in Sweet Valley, PA  and WIVH-FM, missionary radio in the Virgin Islands. He acted as engineer, architect, and on-air personality and designed and built the automation systems that operate the stations. He did much computer programming, this also being self-taught, and includes a library data base program for the Good News Library, at WRGN. This blog isn’t long enough for me to tell you all the hobby-type projects he has completed in his home workshop, including cutting brass gears and making a French style skeleton clock. But one of them is the “Digital Toy Counter,” which attaches to electronic theatre organs and, during the playing of a composition, allows the organist to activate sounds like whistles, horns, cymbals, bird calls, horse trots, etc. He installed it on his Allen theater organ and has sold almost 50 of these to other delighted organists. If you are familiar with one of his latest projects, a Wurlitzer type, Military Band Organ, then you realize that his capabilities and drive are endless. I tell you all this, so that you will be better able to comprehend his latest accomplishment.

If you begin to add up the years he has spent in various occupations, you will feel this man deserves a quiet, simple retirement of basking in the sunshine, reading or traveling. Not so for Burl. He recently completed many months and hours developing,

Burl and his latest invention.

and designing a solid state, digital church chime system for our church and is making it available to other churches also. We used to hear the chimes of a nearby church, and looked forward to the lovely sounds and the reminder of a particular time of day their ringing gave us. But some time ago, these chimes  ceased to be heard and Burl knew why. Churches across our countryside had, many years ago, installed expensive, state-of-the-art  chime systems that have now become antiquated. Most of them used cassette tapes that, with age, lost their ability to perform accurately. Burl’s system, which he named, “Sweet Valley Chimes,” has taken the high cost out of church chime systems, and has added reliability and clarity never heard before. Songs for special holidays and special occasions can be programmed into the system and automatically chime without any assistance from an operator.  Global Positioning (GPS) circuitry accounts for the incredible accuracy of the unit and a microprocessor adds to it’s long-term reliability. Two of these chime systems are already in operation.

I’ve spent time telling you about this recent development because both of us feel excited that churches may again have reliable chimes pealing out a message that the church is alive and well, proud of its heritage, and is welcoming those who listen and hear, to come and worship with the faithful who remain eager to bring together people in worship to God.

16 thoughts on “Sounds Pleasant To The Ear!

  1. Wow….Burl never ceases to amaze me with all of the projects that he has taken on and accomplished in his lifetime. He certainly has a variety of interests. I know that jewelry making has been one of his interests, too, and I still treasure the lovely sterlig silver bird pendant that he made for me for Christmas one year. I love the sound of church bells and the possibility of having them chime out loud and clear and even have the ability to chime out seasonal songs for the holidays is very exciting. The little church that I attended as a child had a bell in the vestibule and it had a long rope attached to it for ringing. I remember that I got to ring it one time; and I felt important when I did it. LOL They always let the kids take turns, ringing the bell, when Sunday School was finished. So if I hear any new chimes coming from my church or the churches in my area, I will be wondering if they are Burl’s chimes. 🙂


    • Hi Colleen: It’s such fun hearing from you. It always amazing me how you have taken special care to keep in touch with our family. So many of the people we hear from are very talented, including you. Keeping writing.


  2. Very Interesting. We always knew that Burl was a very talented man and now another chapter. I understand the feeling of being incomplete without the other. That’s what a good marriage is all about. Congratulations to you both on your many accomplishments.


    • Hi Connie: It was great hearing from you. This blog does help you to know Burl a little better and hopefully will also help our friendship to grow. Nice to have you and yours as friends.


  3. You both are truly amazing and inspiring! You have never let the grass grow under your feet. You are always accomplishing wonderful things that bless others! I know many will enjoy the chimes just as they have enjoyed the newspaper and the radio station. What is more beautiful than entering church to lovely chimes?!?!


    • Thanks, Janine. You are so right about church chimes’ call to worship being so special. I appreciate you taking time from Gentle Spirit Creations’ work to write each time for my blog. You are special.


  4. The chimes at Roaring Brook are beautiful. So many people commented on how wonderful it was to hear them on Dedication Day. God Bless you and Burl for all the work done for the Lord’s Glory and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. The chimes give such joy to us all and bring a gladness of heart. Thank you so much.


    • Thanks Sharon for writing and for sharing comments heard when “Sweet Valley Chimes” rang out in celebration of RBBC’s dedication. Thanks, too, for your dedication and hard work for the many church projects you make possible there. Love hearing from you.


  5. I love to hear church bells and chimes. When a child I rang the bell at Maple Grove…it was like being on a ride at Knoebels…it would lift me off the floor. Have you ever seen the movie…”The Miracle of the Bells”…? It stars Fred MacMurray and Frank Sinatra…takes place in Coaltown…(Glen Lyon,Pa). They rang the bells for 3 days. Great blog…thanks guys…!!


    • You are among most people who love to hear church chimes. There is nothing quite like them to bring your thoughts to God. I loved your memories of ringing the church bells at Maple Grove and that experience has left a lasting memory in your life. Thanks, Karen, for writing.


  6. You both amaze me! You are like a see-saw, one side working in unity with the other. I know if Burl were writing this blog, most of his thoughts would be directed towards you Shirl.
    The older I get, the more I appreciate seeing people like you who have experienced true love. What is being projected to the youth of today is so sad and so far from the love God wants for each and every one of us. But, I’ve been blessed in knowing the WRGN family. A few loving examples come to mind, Lawrence and Iva, Randy and Maureen, Tim and Heather and even young Johnathan and Johanna just to mention a few.
    Which brings me to your topic, the chimes. There would be no sound coming from a bell if the gong hung alone. The beautiful sound only radiates when the gong touches the opposite side of the bells wall. It must be the two sides working together to produce the most vibrant sounds we enjoy. I easily have at least 20 wind chimes around my home. I will park on the side of the road if i’m driving just to listen church bells. I love the sound of your music box with the big brass disks and “Happy” really does make me happy. What a beautiful sunset is to the eye, chimes are to the ear!


    • Dear Debbie: What a beautiful reply. Your comparisons of the bells was amazing and your thoughts on love, also. How true that it takes unity for a successful relationship, yet so many ignore this important ingredient to a good marriage. So glad to get to know you and Bob. God bless you.


  7. It is such a blessing getting to know you and Burl and all the wonderful things you have done and are still doing.
    Our church has a bell and I love when they ring it as we are coming into the church on Sunday morning. Need to do it more often.~Blessings~


Please leave a comment. I love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s