I’ve got a cold. The pesky virus came home with Caroline from kindergarten and infected both Margaret and me this week. I’m on the mend, but last night I went to bed early (again), missing the Dutch bluegrass band concert to which I’d purchased tickets. Steve said it was great. The audience seemed kind of bewildered by a musical style unfamiliar to them, though the band spoke Dutch to introduce their numbers.

Early to bed means early to rise, so although I didn’t set an alarm, I woke up when the bedroom grew a fraction lighter. I happily found that I had enough time to walk up the street to the sunrise service at the Domplein (cathedral square). The rest of the family was silent while I pulled on a sweater and jeans and crept out the front door.

The crowd was less than a hundred people singing along to music led by a trumpet. As you might imagine, some tunes were familiar, and I know enough Dutch phonics now to sing along with syllables whose meanings I don’t get.

In front of us as we sang stood the Dom cathedral (the choir and transept are all that are left after a hurricane blew down the neglected nave in 1674). Behind us stood the Domtoren (bell tower). RDMZ01_ST-1213_WI’ve climbed the Domtoren about four times now, all one hundred and ten meters of winding stairs. It is simply lovely–a beautiful stone lace north star to any lost tourist who needs to find the center of town. Over half way up, visitors get to walk among the massive historic bells, fourteen of which were forged in 1505. I’ve spent a cumulative hour reading their personified inscriptions, which sound like this: “I am John the Baptist. I will preach baptism and God’s power to all the people.” On our last tour, when asked when these historic bells were played, the guide replied that each bell requires several persons’ effort to pull, and they are only played a few times a year, like Christmas and New Year’s Eve at midnight. ¬†One level higher in the tower are fifty much smaller bells whose melodies I often hear on Saturdays when the city carillon player gives her weekly concert.

During our last hymn, to the tune of “Thine is the Glory,” a lone bell began to sound in the tower above us. A second soon joined, then a third. Soon the bell tower was the center of attention. The crowd turned in unison and looked up.

I got to hear the bells. The really old ones.

They sounded like Pentecost–everyone talking in different languages. They were each ringing in their own rhythm and pitch, unrelated to the others–fourteen singers belting out different hymns of praise, shouting different tidings of good news. The noise was all encompassing. I contemplated hurrying home, because I thought for sure that they would wake and awe my family. (They didn’t.) But I stayed with the crowd and just marveled at the noise. Having climbed the tower and walked among those massive bells while the wind whistled through their silence several times, I felt affection for them. I’m so glad that I got to hear their voices once while we lived here.

Easter morning.  Sunrise.


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One Response to Sunrise

  1. Anne says:

    This is lovely. I so wish I could have been there with you. I’m glad you enjoyed Holy Week, and happy Tweede Paasdag.

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