EN The Bells of Vyšehrad
The bells of the basilica have a turbulent history. In the Baroque period, they were located in a separate bell tower. After the neo-Gothic reconstruction of the church (1903), the bells were placed in the towers at the western part of the basilica; two new bells were added to the existing Baroque bells. During the First World War, some of the bells were confiscated (in 1916). Similarly, in April 1942 the protectorate authorities confiscated more bells not only from the church of St Peter and St Paul, but also from churches and chapels belonging to the Collegiate Chapter. As a result, the north tower was left completely without bells and only two historical bells remained in the south tower. The first historical bell (weight approx. 1.200 kg, diameter 125 cm, tone e1) was made by the Prague bell-maker Brikcí of Cimperk (1535–1599) in 1584. The other one was fabricated in the Prague workshop of Baltazar Hoffman in 1621 (weight 900 kg, diameter 114 cm, fis´ tone).
New bells were made by the Perner company. The first bell to be added was a small bell placed in the sanctuary turret above the presbytery (choir) of the church (weight 45 kg, diameter 45 cm, tone h2).
Then a new carillon was added to the big bells. On 27 April 2001, its bells were cast in the foundry of Passau, which is a renowned bell producer throughout the world. The bells are made from bronze – an alloy consisting of 78 percent copper and 22 percent tin. A set of 18 new bells with a total weight of 2.200 kg was subsequently delivered to Vyšehrad.
Finally, on 29 June 2001 Cardinal Miloslav Vlk solemnly blessed a set of four big bells that ring for weekday Masses. On Saturdays, Sundays, and Christian feasts, two old bells also ring along with them.
The four large bells are named: Mary – 660 kg (tone a1), Joseph – 290 kg (tone cis2), Richard – 220 kg and Wenceslas – 190 kg
The carillon sounds every full hour, starting at 11 am and ending at 9 pm. The melodies are arranged by the Czech organist Jaroslav Vodrážka and the performance is controlled by computer technology. Musical compositions such as “Vyšehrad” or “Vltava” (by Bedřich Smetana), Czech national anthem “Kde domov můj” (“Where is my home”), religious songs such as “Ave Maria”, “Adeste, fideles”, “Te Deum”, “Pange lingua”, carols, and many others are played.
In honour of Mrs Milena Jirat-Wasiutinski (1920–2008) who donated 2 million Czech crowns for the purchase of the bells the song “Dobrú noc, má milá” (Good Night, My Dear) is heard on the eve of her name day on 24 January and her birthday on 13 April.
Photo: Roman Albrecht, Člověk a Víra.