“Elegy of the Bells / Litany of the Bells”

Veterans For Peace member Frank Koczan of VFP Sheboygan, Chapter 114 created this amazing Liturgy of the Bells!  This Liturgy is a great opportunity to reach out to local houses of worship to commemorate Armistice Day. 

About the creation Frank says: "I wanted to create something especially for the centennial but also something that could be used in subsequent years’ Armistice Day observances.

... My intent has been to create a piece that makes people “feel” something deeply emotional, something more than just understanding the historical reason for observing the date.  It is my hope that they will feel a catch in their throat, an ache in their heart, a tear forming in their eye; it is my hope that the phrases accompanying the 11 tolls of the “Litany” will keep people’s thoughts from wandering, focusing their minds on the millions of lives lost in the Great War and subsequent wars and so bring them to a deep and moving realization of the profound tragedy and obscene legacy of war."


About performing the piece: "The piece can be performed with as little as two people: a speaker (“lector”, possibly the leader of the worship service) and a singer (identified as “singer(s)” since using more than one singer is certainly okay).  The music is very easy to learn; there is no harmony part and the public domain melody is the same as a very familiar holiday song.  The piece is short, taking a bit less than 2 1/2 minutes to perform. 

The tolling bell needed for the “Litany” can be achieved using a substitute for the House of Worship’s regular bells (some are computer controlled and changing the program may, as at my own church, pose difficulties).  A substitute can be found by Googling the internet for free apps that provide a variety of bell sounds to choose from.  Such an app can be downloaded to a handheld device that is controlled by one of the performers for convenient and reliable use at exactly the right time.  Amplification may be needed depending on the circumstances."


To perform the piece at your house of worship: Frank has been generous to share this piece with other VFP Chapters, but he does request that everyone notify him when using! Please email franknmaryk@gmail.com. The “Elegy / Litany” has been copyrighted but with permission to Houses of Worship and to nonprofit organizations (such as VFP chapters) to freely use the piece without charge and without having to submit a written request for permission to use.  Other organizations and individuals must request permission and may or may not have to pay a fee depending on various factors.


The contents of the piece are below: