The rings of the carillon bells in the Chapel of Memories at Mississippi State University are familiar sounds for many students and alumni.
However, these sounds were recently updated with the instillation of a new carillon.
While many students did not know the old carillon was replaced until they heard different rings coming from the chapel courtyard, the project was in progress for roughly five years.
According to Regina Hyatt, MSU’s vice president for student affairs, the older machine previously in use came to the university's chapel in 1994 and became unreliable.
“Thanks to the generous support of doctors George and Missy Hopper who established a foundation fund to support the Chapel, additional funds contributed during a campaign in the fall semester, and support from our divisional resources, we were able to purchase new equipment,” Hyatt said.
Raymond Brooks, the assistant dean of students, said as issues began to pop up over time, MSU Event Services decided to do something to fix it.
“The only thing we could make it do was play the same thing at the same time every day. Because of class schedules and weddings in the chapel and things like that, it made it very difficult to set up a playlist that would be conducive at all times,” Brooks said.
Weddings, for example, were particularly an issue because situations had the potential to come up when a couple was on the verge of saying “I do,” and the old carillon would ring out.
Once proper funds were raised, the new carillon installation began as soon as possible.
“It’s only been a month or so ago, but once the final funds were raised, I was informed and told to order what we needed to order to get everything up and running, so we did that and within three weeks of doing that everything arrived,” Brooks said.
Since they received the equipment, the staff who takes care of the chapel has worked constantly to complete the replacement of carillons.
“Within the next week, we’ll be able to be completely done and have everything back to the way it used to run at one time,” Brooks said.
The “bells” have always been electronic, but with the new equipment in use, they are more accurate and authentic sounding.
Lucas McTaggart, who oversees the upkeep of the carillon equipment, said the new equipment gives them the “capability to connect an organ to it and let somebody actually play through the bells.”
McTaggart said while the old carillon played computer-generated sounds, the new carillon uses sound samples. The new carillon also provides McTaggart and the rest of the team more control in what is played. It will also allow for greater flexibility than the previous carillon could.
“Even the Westminster chime sounds different, and the company said the new one was redone so that it sounded like the actual Westminster chime,” McTaggart said.
Brooks said the tradition of the chapel's carillon is important to MSU.
“I’m just happy that the university is going to be able to experience a tradition it had for many years and bring that back," Brooks said. "When you’re out in the nice, pretty weather walking across campus, you’ll be able to hear that bell tower ring."