The Ethos of Liturgical Art
and the Aesthetics of Orthodox Bells

The Orthodox church bell is a eucharistic event; pealing it is a dynamic act whereby the individual entity joins in the universal reality of ecclesial communion. It is a realization of personal distinctiveness, but a realization within the framework of communion, for harmony and rhythm are the rejection of all that is merely individual. Thus the Orthodox bell embodies an ascetic rejection and self-abnegation on the part of the ringer, while at the same time (and consequently) manifesting both his personal distinctiveness and the universal truth of the Church.

"As a technical construction, each work has a revelatory personal distinctiveness, and in this personal distinctiveness the universal truth of the Church is manifested.... Byzantine churches 'are the dynamic compositions of a subjective sense, rather than the static arrangements of an objective theory... No work of Byzantine architecture is a pure type, a model which can be repeated... Each Byzantine church is an individuality, an act of emancipation from the model... It is not really important how precisely it fits together or how regularly it is laid out. The walls are not always at right angles, the roofs often have different inclines... the ground plans are not rectangular, the domes are not always absolutely circular at their base, the facades are irregular and the bricks fit together haphazardly. From the point of view of our very strict requirements, a Byzantine plan is always a mistake, but an acceptable mistake– one that works. The whole structure is a piece of music which the virtuoso craftsman has sung in a different way each time, and always so successfully that repetition is out of the question.'"

This objective asymmetry...