Tuesday, May 30, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 9, 1444 H
clear sky
33°C / 33°C

Chimes from Crusader times: Recreating Nativity Church’s Mediaeval music


Researchers from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem are inspiring researchers’ efforts to re-create music as it may have been known in the birthplace of Jesus through almost 800 years ago.

On the eve of a Muslim offensive, mid-13th-century Crusaders buried 13 bronze bells near the church on the eve of a Muslim offensive near the church, slathering them in animal fat to protect them from rust, according to David Catalunya, who is planning a project to make facsimiles of them.

“It’s a very long process, not only in terms of constructing the materiality of the instruments but also its cultural context and intellectual context,” explained Catalunya, a researcher from the universities of Oxford and Wuerzburg, Germany.

After the exploratory research phase finished, he predicts it will take up to five years to make completely functioning copies.

a knock of the knuckles may even be enough for a clear, high-pitched chime from the originals, whose clappers have long since drew away, as demonstrated by Reuters in the Custody of the Holy Land for the Roman Catholic church, which holds the outstanding collection.

“It’s half of the original sound, (which) was much richer and louder and a little less), says Catalunya.

Franciscan friar Father Stephane, the Custody’s liturgist, declared, “The bells were part of a carillon that provided chants inside the church.”

The latter, along with 222 Mediaeval copper pipes from the Church of the Nativity’s organ, were discovered during construction at the church’s Franciscan structure in the early 20th century, according to Father Stephane.

The collection also includes the sceptre of Bethlehem and candlesticks from the 12th century that, according to Catalunya, were made in France, implying a mixed reputation with the bells and organ pipes, which Father Stephane claims are the oldest in Christendom.

Father Stephane stated that the collection’s exhibit and play is planned to be shown and played at a Jerusalem museum by 2024.

“These bells are so important for us that they are Bethlehem’s bells (and a) symbol of Nativity in the Christian realm,” he noted.

arrow up
home icon