Death knell


Death knell

A death knell is the ringing of a bell to announce a death. This is also called tolling the bell.

The ancient custom of ringing a church bell at the actual time of death (The Passing-Bell, or rather the Death Knell) fell into disuse in England by the end of the 18th century.[1][2] More customary at the end of the 19th century was to ring the Death Knell as soon as notice reached the clerk of the church or sexton, unless the sun had set, in which case it was rung at an early hour the following morning.

It was usual to repeat the knell early on the morning of the day when the funeral took place; but although canon law permitted tolling after the funeral there does not seem to be any record that this was practised.

The manner of ringing the knell varied in different parishes. Occasionally the age of the departed was signified by the number of chimes (or strokes) of the bell, but the use of "tellers" to denote the sex was almost universal, and by far the greater number of churches in the counties of Kent and Surrey used the customary number of tellers, viz., three times three strokes for a man and three times two for a woman, with a varying use for children across the counties.

J C L Stahlschmidt produced comprehensive lists of the practices at each church in Kent and Surrey in his two volumes. Transcriptions of the books[3] have been produced by Robarts – University of Toronto.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Stahlschmidt J.C.L: The Church Bells of Kent: Their inscriptions, founders, uses and traditions, p126. Elliot Stock, 1887.
  2. ^ Stahlschmidt J.C.L: Surrey Bells and London Bell Founders: A Contribution to the Comparative Study of Bell Inscriptions, p124. Elliot Stock, 1884.
  3. ^ http://www.archive.org/stream/churchbellsofken00stah/churchbellsofken00stah_djvu.txt

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • death knell — Knell Knell, n. [OE. knel, cnul, AS. cnyll, fr. cnyllan to sound a bell; cf. D. & G. knallen to clap, crack, G. & Sw. knall a clap, crack, loud sound, Dan. knalde to clap, crack. Cf. {Knoll}, n. & v.] The stroke of a bell tolled at a funeral or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • death knell — n. 1. A stroke or tolling of a bell, announcing a death; a knell[1]. [1913 Webster] 2. Hence: (figuratively) A sign or harbinger of the end, death, or passing away of anything. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • death knell — n [singular] a sign that something will soon fail or stop existing →↑death blow (sound/strike/toll) the death knell for/of sth ▪ The loss of Georgia would sound the death knell of Republican hopes …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • death knell — ► NOUN 1) the tolling of a bell to mark a death. 2) an event that signals the end of something …   English terms dictionary

  • death knell — death ,knell noun singular LITERARY an event or situation that is a sign of the end of something …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • death knell — noun 1. an omen of death or destruction • Hypernyms: ↑omen, ↑portent, ↑presage, ↑prognostic, ↑prognostication, ↑prodigy 2. a bell rung to announce a death • Syn: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • death knell — also death knell N SING: usu the N for/of n If you say that something sounds the death knell for a particular person or thing, you mean it will cause that person or thing to fail, end, or cease to exist. The tax increase sounded the death knell… …   English dictionary

  • death knell — {n.}, {formal} 1. The ringing of a bell at a death or funeral. * /The people mourned at the death knell of their friend./ 2. {literary} Something which shows a future failure. * /Bill s poor grade on his final examination sounded the death knell… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • death knell — {n.}, {formal} 1. The ringing of a bell at a death or funeral. * /The people mourned at the death knell of their friend./ 2. {literary} Something which shows a future failure. * /Bill s poor grade on his final examination sounded the death knell… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • death\ knell — noun formal 1. the ringing of a bell at a death or funeral. The people mourned at the death knell of their friend. 2. literary Something which shows a future failure. Bill s poor grade on his final examination sounded the death knell of his hope… …   Словарь американских идиом


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