Delta State University will participate in Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s appeal that bells ring daily across the state at 6 PM for one minute from Monday, April 6, until Monday, April 20, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The West Carillon at the Lena Roberts Sillers Chapel on the DSU campus will chime accordingly during the two-week shelter-in-place executive order issued by Gov. Tate Reeves.
“In keeping with Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s request for a demonstration of solidarity and shared concern about the spread and effect of the COVID-19 virus, Delta State will play the university’s West Carillon every evening at 6 PM beginning tonight through April 20,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “We join all citizens and communities throughout the state in saluting healthcare workers and others on the ‘front line’ who are combatting this scourge, and we offer our prayers and support for those who have fallen ill to the COVID-19 virus.”
The West Carillon is contained in a campanile (freestanding bell tower) that’s adjacent to the chapel. The West Carillon originally was installed in the student union. Dedicated in 1975, it consisted of 37 harp bells, 37 celesta bells, 25 English bells, and 37 Flemish bells and was played manually from a keyboard or automatically via paper rolls that played 8 to 10 tunes apiece, explained Julie Jackson, building manager of the chapel and director of housing and residence life. The West Carillon was moved to the campanile in fall 1979. The original mechanism slowly deteriorated over the years, and in the mid- 2000s, DSU purchased a new, digital carillon, the size of a breadbox. Chapel bells typically toll on the hour between 8 AM and 8 PM and play two random tunes at noon and 5 PM.
“It’s an honor to help maintain the spirit that accompanies the chapel bells playing on campus each day,” said Jackson. “It’s even more of an honor to help Delta State play its part of displaying statewide mindfulness during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Dr Vicki Bingham, dean of DSU’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, added, “In this time of uncertainty, the ringing of the bells throughout our communities is a way to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of all healthcare workers as they care and comfort those who are sick and their families during this health crisis. For the patients who are ill and the families who are suffering, the sound from ringing the bells lets them know we are praying for and remembering each one.”
In an April 2, 2020, letter to Mississippi church leaders, Lt. Gov. Hosemann asked all houses of worship to ring their bells for one minute in unison “in recognition of our healthcare workers on the front lines, in prayer for those who are sick, and in an attempt to unify Mississippians in sound and spirit.” Citizens also are encouraged to ring their bells from their front yard. He concluded, “We may not be able to physically be with our friends and neighbors, but our sound can convey our support for one another.”