MARTINSBURG, W. Va. (WDVM) — A church in downtown Martinsburg stepping into the digital era to bring sweet sounds to the city and it’s just in time for the holiday season. A new carillon system has been installed and dedicated at Saint John’s Lutheran Church.
The sound system will ring the church bells will call members to worship at specific times during the day and to chime the hours, but there aren’t any physical bells in the steeple of the church. The carillon system is loaded with over 1000 songs and tunes and is a compilation of English and Flemish bells as well as a true tone generator that can create any tone of a bell. Drew Catrow, President of St. John’s Lutheran Church council, explained that the digital system is a more financially savvy decision for the church rather than traditional metal bells.
“Real church bells to do what this particular unit does would cost well over $1 million and this one is considerably less than that,” Catrow explained. “But it does everything that that particular system does and more. It’s a digital system and what they’ve done is they’ve gone throughout the world and recorded specific chime systems.”
The system was also dedicated to Ruth Ann Widmeyer, who passed away in 2011, by her family after her husband, Doug, passed away in March before finishing the project. Catrow explained that Doug and Ruth Ann’s son, Scott, approached him with the idea as both were members of the church and active members in the Martinsburg community.
With all of the revitalization projects happening in the city, Mayor Kevin Knowles is excited to welcome visitors and residents back to downtown. He and Catrow both agreed that the carillon system is not only a great new addition to the church but to the Martinsburg community as a whole.
“How cool is that? When we’re revitalizing our Martin Street corridor here down to our train station where we have the MARC train coming in,” Mayor Knowles said. “You get off the train, somebody hears this music coming up and seeing such a vibrant small town. Perfect. Martinsburg is moving forward, and here we go.”
Throughout the holiday season, festive music will be played on the hour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the afternoon. The church also plans to play festive music on other holidays throughout the year.