Nazareth College has always prided itself on honoring tradition. For 35 years, the musical notes of the carillon have chimed from atop the tower of Smyth Hall, marking the time and, to the chagrin of some students, the start of class.
"They are one of the many things that make Naz, Naz," says student Jessica Geraci '11. "While I hardly ever hear them because they have become like background noise for me, when I do notice them, it's comforting. It's a reminder that I'm here at Nazareth—home."
Donated by Kilian and Caroline Schmitt in 1975 in honor of Nazareth's 51st birthday, the carillon is a mechanical chronobell. It produces 25 notes by way of tiny clappers that strike against metal tone generators. These tones are then carried and amplified by a solid state amplifier to a speaker system in the Smyth Hall tower. The sound produced is equal to the chiming of 56 tons of bronze bells.
"The chimes ring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," explains Cathy Stevens, administrative assistant to Nazareth College President Daan Braveman. "Neighbors like to hear them. When they are shut off for maintenance we get calls asking why they are off."
In 1982, the carillon was updated to play the Westminster chimes every half hour and hour. When the carillon was still new, music students played melodies at the noon hour on weekdays and for special occasions such as commencement.
The Smyth Hall carillon has its counterpart at the Golisano Academic Center (GAC). In 1930, before the College moved from the Augustine Street campus in the city of Rochester to its current home on East Avenue in Pittsford, the Sisters of St. Joseph had already installed a set of bells in the 125-foot belfry tower of the new Motherhouse. These bells were rung from 1930 until 2003, when the building was sold to Nazareth College to become what is now the Golisano Academic Center. "Sister-novices living at the former Motherhouse took turns ringing the Angelus (a prayer in honor of Our Lady) each day in a series of single-tone rings at 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m.," details Dr. Marion Hoctor, SSJ, Professor Emerita of English.
The bells in GAC consist of three bells ranging in weight from 400 pounds to 1,200 pounds. The bells are inscribed with individual names in honor of Mary (mother of Jesus). The largest bell bears the inscription Mater Generis Humani—Laudate Dominum Omnes Populi honoring Mary as "Mother of Mankind." The middle bell is inscribed with Sedes Sapientiae to acknowledge Mary as "Seat of Wisdom," and the smallest bell is named Regina Pacis, or "Queen of Peace."
The ringing of the College bells and chimes is, and forever will be, a cherished part of the Nazareth tradition. As the inscription on the Smyth carillon keyboard says, these wonderful sounds will continue to serve "the pleasure and enrichment of all who visit this campus."