The world's most famous chimes are the Westminster. Nearly everyone associates the Westminster chimes with the Clock Tower (also known as the 'Big Ben Tower' ) at the House of Parliament in London. Originally, however, they were fitted to the clock of the University Church, St Mary's the Great, in Cambridge, England. The words to this beautiful chime come from one of G. F. Handel's famous musical compositions, "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" and could be our daily prayer:
"Lord through this hour,
Be Thou our guide
So, by Thy power
No foot shall slide."
The famous Whittington chime is derived from the Church of St. Mary's le Bow, in Cheapside, London. The legend is that Dick Whittington, running away from ill treatment as a house waif, seemed to hear the chimes say, "Turn again- Whittington, Lord Mayor of London Town." Dick turned back to eventually serve three terms as London's Lord Mayor of London Town.
St. Michael ChimesThe story of the St. Michael chimes are one of adventure and perhaps have more significance to the United States since their history is really a part of our heritage. The bells were cast in London and installed in St. Michael's Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 1764. When the British took over the city during the Revolutionary War the bells were taken by them back to England. A Charleston merchant bought them in England and shipped them home to America.
In 1823, cracks were found in some of the bells and they were returned to London to be recast. In 1862, during the siege of Charleston, the bells were moved to Columbia for safe-keeping but Sherman's army set fire to that area. Only fragments of the bells were found to be returned to London once more, where the original molds still stood. In February, 1867, the bells were again installed in St. Michael Steeple and on March 21st, joyously rang out, "Home again, Home again from a foreign Land."
Winchester chimes have a very interesting history. The Norman conquerors of England did not like the fantastic cathedral chimes of the Saxons, so Bishop Walkilin, a kinsman of William the Conqueror, demolished and rebuilt the Winchester chimes in 1093. The cathedral's central tower, which contained the chimes, fell in 1107 but soon was rebuilt. This edifice forms a substantial part of the present cathedral, located in Hampshire, England. The lyrics of the Winchester chime are:
"O Art Divine, exalted blessing!
Each celestial charm expressing!
Proudest gift the gods bestow
Sweetest chimes that mortals know."