Cathedral Bells ring praise at Waynesboro Church

June 28, 2004|by DON AINES

Even something as apparently benign as performing with a bell choir can have its avocational hazards, according to Phil Buglass.

"The group I used to be with used to have exercises before rehearsals to warm the wrists up" and prevent ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, said Buglass, a native of England. He performed with a bell choir in the Washington, D.C., area before moving to the Waynesboro area a couple of years ago.

"We only rehearse an hour a week, so we don't have time for exercises," said Carolyn Chaney, a choir member since 1992.

On Sunday, Buglass, Chaney and 11 other members of the Cathedral Bells were "ringing praise" by giving a rare concert at the Evangelical Lutheran Church on South Church Street.


"Usually, we're only working on one piece at a time," said Buglass. The choir normally performs during worship services once a month at the church, he said.

"We've been ringing now about 21 years," said Director Daniel Deatrich before the choir performed 11 spiritual and secular works.

The choir dates back to 1983 with a memorial gift of two octaves of Schulmerich handbells, according to Deatrich. Over the years, the choir grew to five octaves, ranging from pieces smaller than a dinner bell to ones that look as though they should be on the bridge of a ship.

"You get above the sixth octave and you can't lift them," Deatrich said.

From "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to "I Sing the Mighty Power of God," the choir performed for more than an hour in the church sanctuary for an audience of about 100 people. Susan Gift displayed a pair of swift hands as the soloist on "How Great Thou Art," using 17 bells, Deatrich said.

The concert was another celebration marking 100 years since construction began on the church, according to Pastor Richard A. Seaks. However, the congregation's history dates back much further, he said.

"When I came here 11 years ago, we were celebrating 175 years," Seaks said. At one time, the Lutherans shared a church with Reformed and Presbyterian congregations farther south on Church Street, he said.

The church's existing building is the second one at the current site, Seaks said.

When construction began in 1904, the Rev. C.H. Rockey placed a time capsule in the cornerstone. On June 5, the capsule was opened and its contents reviewed for the first time in a century.

A Bible, Luther's Small Catechism, a short history of the church and letters and copies of The Herald and the Blue Ridge Zephyr, two papers that served the area in that age, weathered the century well inside a metal box.

Seaks said this centennial year will be capped sometime in the next few months with the installation in the sanctuary of a 9-foot bas-relief mahogany sculpture of Christ by Waynesboro artist Tom McFarland.

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