Paul Revere Bell Rings Daily in Falmouth

Inscription on Bell: “The Living To The Church I Call And To The Grave I Summon All”

In 1792, 17 years after his famous ride, Paul Revere opened a bell foundry – a fancy term for bell factory – in Boston, where he and a small team made and sold bells.

It’s evidently a complicated business. Making a bell is not as easy as one might suspect, and Revere had skills. Four years later he filled an order placed by the Town of Falmouth. An original receipt for the $338.94 purchase, dated November 20, 1796 and signed by Revere himself, remains in the custody of the Falmouth Historical Society.

As for the bell, it was placed in the original 1796 Congregational Meetinghouse on the Green.

“A church bell held great importance in colonial communities where there were few clocks. Citizens awoke to the Gabriel bell, the Sermon bell called them to services, and the Pudding bell told the cook to ready dinner.” explained Falmouth Historical Commission Member Karen Allen.

The bell even served as an alarm in the event of a fire or emergency and sounded during conflicts and when urgent news was to be announced.

The bell is one of Revere’s oldest still functioning piece of work. At 807 pounds, it’s also one of the smallest. It’s inscribed with traditional raised letters reading, “THE LIVING TO THE CHURCH I CALL AND TO THE GRAVE I SUMMON ALL – REVERE BOSTON. 1796.”

First Congregational Church of Falmouth

“Years after the separation of church and state in Massachusetts in 1834, it became clear that our congregation needed a larger building,” writes Rev. Dr. Doug Showalter, of the First Congregational Church of Falmouth.

“In 1857, the frame of the church was rolled across the street from the Village Green to its present location.”

The pews, windows, much of the framing, and the bell as well all made the trip and have remained for the last century and a half. Few structural improvements have been made in that time and the bell remains in a tight steeple that is difficult to access.

Rev. William Bates was pastor of the church during the mid-19th century, and oversaw the move of the bell across the Green. His daughter Katharine Lee who would later earn acclaim as the writer behind “America the Beautiful,” had a clear affection for the bell, its history-even then – and its role in bringing the community together. She wrote a poem about Revere’s work.

In “The Falmouth Bell” she writes “Holy bell of Paul Revere / Calling such to prayer and praise / While a hundred times the year / Herds her flock of faithful days!”

Sure, it’s no “from sea to shining sea” but still, to write a poem about a bell, it must be a fairly special bell.

They still ring the 222 year old Paul Revere bell at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth regularly, the sound is still thick, and travels, and it seems like it may well hold up another century or two.

Take a listen to it below.

By CapeCod.com Staff


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