In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells.
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells
by Edgar Allen Poe
The Council of Trent mandated the use of bells in the celebration of Mass in 1545. By this time, the smaller “Sanctus bells” had become popular. These bells were rung at the epiclesis (when the priest extends his hands over the gifts, calling down the Holy Spirit), at the two elevations and at the priest's communion.
It is a common misunderstanding of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal that the use of bells was terminated for the Novus Ordo Mass. In our newest GIRM, #150 says the following: “A little before the Consecration, if appropriate, a minister rings a small bell as a signal to the faithful. The minister also rings the small bell at each elevation by the Priest, according to local custom.”
The bells of the church are silenced after the Gloria at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and are not rung until the Gloria of the Mass of the Easter Vigil. This, like the absence of the Alleluia during the entire Season of Lent, is likened to a fast.
The tintinnabulation of the bells has been a tradition of the Church for more than 1600 years. The sound of the bells reminds us of the joy of the Resurrection and directs our hearts to the praise of God.