Duke Chapel Bells to Ring as Part of National Memorial Jan. 19

The bells of the Duke Chapel carillon will ring at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, as part of a nationwide tribute to remember and honor people who have died of COVID-19.

Viewers are invited tune in to an online presentation of the remembrance on the Duke University website at duke.edu.

The musical memorial will comprise beloved songs, including “Amazing Grace” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” as well as a bell tolling 40 times to represent the nearly 400,000 Americans who have died during the pandemic.

“We have become so used to reading grim statistics during this pandemic,” said the Rev. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, “but for so many people what stands out is not a cumulative number but a specific, beloved person—every number represents a unique and precious human being—who is gone and dearly missed.”

“This aural memorial is a time to acknowledge our pain and loss, honor the dead, while also remembering that we are not alone as we walk this fragile human road,” he said.

The chapel carillon comprises 50 bells and is played manually from a keyboard located in a small cabin in the chapel tower. As part of the remembrance on Jan. 19, the carillon will be silent during the usual 5 p.m. recital time before beginning to play at 5:30 p.m.

“The music selected for this memorial speaks to our collective grief, and the need to pause and remember,” said Zebulon Highben, director of chapel music. “It also testifies to the hope that perseveres, even through hardship.”

There will be no in-person program at the chapel during the memorial event. Those who might hear the carillon on campus must adhere to all Duke United public health protocols, including wearing a mask, symptom monitoring, and physical distancing.