Paula Gail Benson
the holidays, there is a lot of emphasis on gift giving. For most of us, it
means online or in store shopping and figuring out the heart’s desires of those
nearest and dearest to us.
the gifts of the holiday season are more subtle. The joy of hearing and singing
traditional music. The quiet realization that comes from a special moment while
watching a holiday program. The chance to see and reminisce with family and
year, I received a special gift while talking with my friend Margaret Davis,
who works with the children and handbell choirs at my church. Probably,
Margaret didn’t realize she was giving me anything. She just told me about a
story that had been very meaningful to her. And, for the first time, I heard
about “Why the Chimes Rang.”
|Barnes and Noble Edition|
Baldwin Project (“Bringing Yesterday’s Classics to Today’s Children”) provides
an online version.
including a dramatized version.
impressive Christmas chimes. Unfortunately, the chimes have not been heard for
many years. Every year, the townspeople would lay their offerings to the Christ
child on the church’s altar. They believed that when the greatest and best
offering was placed on the altar, the bells would chime.
to the church on Christmas Eve, to attend the service. On their way, they came
upon a poor woman who had collapsed in the cold. Pedro decided to stay with the
woman and help her keep warm until his brother could bring assistance from
the people leaving the service. He gave his brother a coin and cautioned him to
place it on the altar when no one was looking.
being placed on the altar, including a book an author had been writing for many
years and the crown the king took from his own head. None of the gifts caused the bells
to chime. As the service was concluding, no one noticed the brother quietly
placing Pedro’s coin on the altar. Only when the chimes rang out did those
closest to the altar see the little brother creeping silently down the aisle.
MacDonald Alden (who wrote many Sunday School books) and Reverend Gustavus
Rossenberg Alden. Raymond became an English professor, writing books of
literary analysis. His “Why the Chimes Rang” has been compared with two similar
holiday stories, “Le Jongleur de Notre Dame” (a miracle story about a juggler
who becomes a monk and has no gift to offer the statue of the Virgin Mary
except his ability to juggle–when the other monks ridicule him, the statue
comes to life and blesses him) and “The Little Drummer Boy” (who plays his drum
as a gift for the Christ child). The Wikipedia article on Raymond MacDonald Alden provides information about his work and links to articles about the related stories.
this story, for now it will become part of my holiday celebrations. It’s good to
remember in the hustle and bustle of the season that sometimes the smallest
offering can have the most significant effect.