The ringing of the bells serves two functions in the Orthodox Church. The first is for calling the faithful to divine services, and the second is to announce the beginning of various parts of the services to those faithful who are absent from the church.
Announcing the glory of the name of Christ, ringing out both day and night mostly from above God’s temples, the pealing of bells by itself reminds us of the words of Almighty God, spoken through the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah: “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day or night, (making) mention of the Lord.” (Is. 62, 6) It is not by coincidence that pagans who used to hear the peal of bells often said, “It is the voice of the Christian God speaking!”
The sound of a single church bell is solemn and sublime, while the pealing of several bells more or less in concert is even more majestic sounding. The mighty peal of bells has an effect on our interior sensibilities, awakening our souls from spiritual sleep.
We can single out many examples in life, when a person, wearied of life’s struggles with sorrow, has fallen into a state of depression and hopelessness and decided to attempt the taking of his own life, then suddenly hears the sound of church bells. The willing suicide shudders, trembling at his own self, and, involuntarily protecting himself with the Sign of the Cross, remembers his Heavenly Father and awakens new noble sensibilities in his heart – and he who might have perished is reborn to life forever. So there is a wonderful hidden power in the striking of a church bell that penetrates deeply into the human heart.