The Stave-church of Hahnenklee  

HAHNENKLEE - Situated near the medieval city of Goslar in the Harz Mountains, Germany, Hahnenklee's stave church was built in 1908 in the style of early Norwegian churches, resembling a Viking ship with dragons adorning its roof. Its walls were constructed of vertical planks and stave panels.

Since 1976, the stave church already possessed a small chime, installed in the roof turret, its 15 bells cast by Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling of Heidelberg. Originally, Schilling made these bells for a carillon in his workshop, but died before he was able to realize this project. In later years, three extra bells were donated.

The set of 18 bells was then equipped with a cylinder with songs engraved for the automatic playing device. At that time, the parish presented two cylinders with the hymns "Grosser Gott wir loben dich" and "O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte". Also other well-known hymns sounded frequently.

In 1986, a new electronic playing mechanism was installed, together with an electric keyboard that enabled the playing of "live" bell music. In 2000, this playing mechanism fell into disuse due to technical defects and its repair appeared to be too expensive. In 2001, the bell tower of the church was going to be restored, the opportunity presented itself to have the 18 bells transferred from the roof turret to the tower. This was the start of a new carillon.

As soon as the restoration of the tower was completed, the 18 existing bells were moved to the bell chamber, which had in the past accommodated four swinging bells. It was possible to incorporate one of the existing swinging bells in the carillon. With the addition of 5 new bells cast by bell-founder Perner of Passau, a carillon of 24 bells (2 octaves) was created. The keyboard was installed in the stairwell of the tower.

Wilhelm Ritter played the first recital on this new, small carillon on Pentecost Sunday in 2002. He had served as advisor for the project from its inception. Soon thereafter, enough money was donated by generous friends of the church to enlarge the instrument to 49 bells. Bell-founder Perner was again contracted to cast the new bells.

The bells are attached to a European standard keyboard as B-flat1, c2, d2-chromatic to-c6. The largest bell weighs about 300 kg and the smallest 7 kg.

On Pentecost Sunday, 15 May 2005, with splendid weather, about 600 people participated in the inauguration activities. In the procession led by Olaf Sandkuhl from Rostock (playing his 37-bell traveling carillon), were many children carrying small tinkling bells and small carts adorned with flowers.

The blessing ceremony for the bells took place in front of the tower, accompanied by a fanfare of trumpets. All project donors were given a commemorative certificate and had their names engraved on a plaque.

Festivities concluded with a concert by Wilhelm Ritter, who already had been busy through the afternoon explaining the instrument and answering questions of many curious visitors. He also demonstrated the kinds of music that can be played on carillon: original compositions, hymns, folk songs, and of course, pop songs like 'Yesterday' by the Beatles.

The inauguration of this new carillon will be a topic of conversation in Hahnenklee for years to come, particularly as the co-operation, support and great enthusiasm by so many people made the project a big success for both the city and parish alike.

The carillon is played every Saturday at 15.00 hours and is open to visitors. On Sunday, the instrument is played at 09.15 hours before the start of morning service. The three carillonneurs of Hahnenklee are Martin Hofmann, Stefan Klockgether, and Gisela Schulte.