A group of about eight ringers from young to old actively ringing by pulling on their ropes.About 35 ringers smiling and posing outdoors for a group photo on a cool overcast day in Orleans, Massachusetts. The group includes men, women, children, adults, and seniors.A bride, in a wedding dress, with two well-dressed wedding guests, about to pull their ropes to ring bells.Two handbell ringers seated and laughing uncontrollably.An older ringing explaining to a young girl of about 12 how a tower bell works.A group of about a dozen ringers of various ages in a bell tower, standing and facing up at the camera.A man in a belfry leans over the top of a large bell, smiling and looking down at the camera

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The ground zero memorial in New York City, with a serene water feature sunken below ground on the footprint of a fallen towerHonolulu Ringers Remember September 11th
September 16, 2021
Announcement

St. Andrews Ringing Society rang their bells half-muffled for the 20th anniversary of September 11th, 2021.

A blue 2021 edition of the Ringing World Diary2022 Ringing World Diaries and Calendars
September 12, 2021
Announcement

Time to order your 2022 Ringing World Diaries and Calendars!

A senior woman with a yellow T-shirt and a nice smileSad News - Connie Engle
August 12, 2021
Announcement

Hendersonville ringer Connie Engle passed away Friday, August 12.

A screenshot of the new websiteNew NAGCR Website Ready for Member Preview
July 2, 2021
Announcement

After over a year of effort, the new NAGCR website is ready for a member preview!

National Public Radio "NPR" logo sign on a towerOld North Ringers Featured on NPR
July 1, 2021
Announcement

NPR featured the bell ringers at the Old North Church in advance of ringing for the July 4 Independence Day Holiday.

St. Martin's church towerInvitation to 40th+1 Anniversary of St. Martin's Bells
May 30, 2021
Announcement

You are invited to join us in Philly for the 40th+1 Anniversary of the St. Martin's bells Saturday, June 12.

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What is change ringing?

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Change ringing is a fascinating hobby which originated roughly 350 years ago in England. It has something for everyone — dashes of music, physical exercise, meditative concentration, a sociable team sport, and a little math (optional) all put together. Groups of people cooperate to change the order in which they ring their bells according to a precise pattern.

This video features ringers in New York, joined by several visiting ringers from the U.K., ringing the bells at Trinity Church, Wall Street in New York City.

Who are the ringers?

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Bell ringers are all volunteers, coming to ringing from varied backgrounds and interests. Some of us are drawn to it by the sound, the physical challenge, the teamwork, or the mental challenge. But most of us stick with it because of the community. Find your local band to meet other ringers and give it a try!

A view of bells in a belfry from above, mouths up, ready to ring.

How does it work?

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The bells are in a frame in a room above the ringers' heads. They are mounted on wheels and swing full-circle, from mouth up to mouth up. On each swing, by carefully manipulating the rope, a bell can be made to pause briefly or slightly vary its speed. A skilled ringer can time the strike on each swing to place their bell precisely in its place and to vary the place of that bell in the pattern.

Change ringing is also performed on handbells, with each ringer handling two bells.

What does the music look like?

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Instead of traditional melodies, we ring patterns called "methods." It looks complicated, but there is a unique, elegant structure to each of them that make them fun and interesting to learn. This method, called "Oxford Treble Bob Minor," is often learned by intermediate ringers. We ring these methods from memory, which is not as hard as it sounds.

A diagram of a change ringing method
A young man holding a bell rope in one hand, facing a senior woman, helping her hold the rope properly.

How do I learn to ring?

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Learning to ring is as simple as contacting your nearest band. We are always eager to share our unique tradition with new friends. If you do not have a nearby band, there are ways for you to learn virtually.

In tower bell bands, you will begin by learning to control a bell with one-on-one instruction, and then work towards ringing methods with the group. Handbell bands will usually start you with basic methods in your first session.

What is the North American Guild?

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About 35 ringers smiling and posing outdoors for a group photo on a cool overcast day in Orleans, Massachusetts. The group includes men, women, children, adults, and seniors.

The NAGCR is effectively the web that connects North American change ringers to each other and to other change ringers around the world. An all-volunteer organization, it

  • maintains this website;
  • maintains and updates a directory of members;
  • maintains and updates a list of affiliated towers and handbell bands;
  • organizes training courses;
  • sponsors an annual gathering at which its Annual General Meeting is held in the midst of a weekend of much ringing and socializing;
  • publishes a quarterly journal, The Clapper, in both paper and electronic form;
  • sponsors an email chat list in which many members participate; and
  • publishes an annual report of all its activities and those of its members

Just as importantly, the existence of this continental organization provides individual ringers, towers, and clusters of towers with the stimulation and support, both formal and informal, so valuable to the production of dozens of local and regional ringing events each year, the training of change ringing teachers, the improvement of ringing skills, and expanding awareness of change ringing among the general public.

How was the Guild formed?

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There are records of English-style ringing in North America since at least 1744. See There Was Life Before NAG (new tab).

In the early 1960's, there were only seven active towers: In the USA at schools in Kent, Groton, and Chicago and in Canada at churches in Calgary, Mission, Vancouver, and Victoria. There were several other facilities with unused change ringing bells in various states of repair. Excitement about the installation in 1963 of change ringing bells at the new National Cathedral in Washington, DC, however, energized ringers around the continent and discussions about forming a guild to support, improve, and extend change ringing in North America began.

In late 1968 a peal was rung at the Groton School that the ringers present considered to have been the nascent event of the North American Guild. The official founding of the Guild did not occur, however, until the ratification of the constitution in the autumn of 1972 at which time 141 ringers became members. At that time there were 11 active towers in North America concentrated in the southwest Canada and the northeast USA.

We now represent several hundred ringers at about 50 towers and bands in the U.S. and Canada.

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