Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Westminster Quarters

One of the many side-benefits I enjoy when visiting my cousins Carmen and Jim is hearing their grandfather clock chime the Westminster Quarters. I was written in 1793 for a new clock in the church of St. Mary the Great, Cambridge, so the tune is also known as the Cambridge Quarters. Some think that this chime is a set of variations on the four notes that make up the fifth and sixth measures of “I know that my Redeemer liveth” from Handel’s Messiah. It may be the reason the chime is also played by the bells of the so-called 'Red Tower' in Handel’s na├»ve town of Halle. In the mid-19th century the chime was placed in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster where Big Ben lives. This helped the chime fame spread and now may be the most commonly used chime for striking clocks. Westminster Quarters were incorporated into the tower clock of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Williamsport, PA, and dedicated in December 1875. It holds the distinction of being the first tower clock in the United States to sound the Cambridge Quarters. My brain really likes this chime.

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