St. Stephen’s new carillon is drawing attention

Photo by Jody Isaackson The. Rev. Lyle Snyder demonstrates the operation of St. Stephen Lutheran Church’s new carillon.

MARSHALL — Neighbors near South Fourth Street in Marshall are hearing hymns and chimes being played on the new carillon at St. Stephen Lutheran Church.

“The big thing is, when it plays a hymn, it’s a reminder because you notice it wherever you are,” the Rev. Lyle Snyder said.

It has good reach, too. People across Minnesota Highway 23 have heard it, he said.

“It’s a reminder of God’s presence all over the place, not just a reminder to go to church,” Snyder said. “We’ve gotten only one complaint, but have received about 15-20 thank-yous.”

The automated system cost the church only a couple of hundred dollars, Snyder said, because it isn’t a true carillon.

“Real carillons aren’t automated,” Snyder said as he showed the computer box in the storage room behind the altar. “But this one’s pretty decent — it sounds real.”

Carillons are normally installed into church clock or bell towers, he said.

“John DeCramer and I run it,” Snyder said. “We set it up in August.”

He said they ordered it online at eCarillon, and it came with 100 hymns and chimes. One such hymn is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It also chimes on the hour.

“Our easy to use software will allow your organization to schedule music and bell sounds to play at the desired times and dates,” said the company’s website, ecarillon.com. “Our intuitive, graphical interface allows you to quickly get your music or bell schedule built and running like clockwork. The included music library helps you manage and use any .wav, .wma or .mp3 music or sound you would like — no restrictions. You’re in control and are able to build your schedule down to the minute or make as many different schedules as you would like.”

Other useful features include: hourly and Westminster chimes, song randomizer to make music selection hassle-free, playlist to organize and readily use your music, built-in calendar for booking your schedules daily, weekly or yearly, clone schedules so you’re not starting from scratch, Predictive Assist to help you build schedules in a flash and more.

St. Stephen Lutheran Church used to have a carillon in the past. It broke somewhere between 10-12 years ago, Snyder said, and wasn’t replaced until this summer.

Snyder said that with the average age of the church’s 1,000-plus members being 31, having something fun like this just fits right in.